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Dallas IT Worker Loses Files on Open Criminal Cases

Police might have to investigate the crimes again
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 11, 2021 7:05 PM CDT
Dallas IT Worker Loses Files on Open Criminal Cases
Dallas police and members of the FBI investigate a case in May.   (Juan Figueroa/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

(Newser) – A massive amount of information on criminal cases dating to July 2020 has been lost from the Dallas Police Department computer database, authorities revealed on Wednesday. In a statement, the Dallas County District Attorney's Office said the loss occurred in early April as the police department performed a data migration from a computer network drive, the AP reports. About 14 terabytes of the 22 terabytes lost were recovered, but the remaining eight terabytes are believed lost forever, according to the statement, and would have to be restored by new investigative work. City information technology officials became aware of the problem on April 5. The police and city IT departments did not reveal the loss to the district attorney's office until Friday, after prosecutors inquired why they could not find computer files on pending cases. Police and the district attorney's office are trying to figure how many cases are affected.

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The lost data included images, video, audio, case notes, and other information gathered by police officers and detectives, according to a police statement. A city IT employee was migrating the files, which had not been accessed for six to 18 months, from an online, cloud-based archive to a server at the city's data center. "While performing the data migration, the employee failed to follow proper, established procedures, resulting in the deletion of the data files," according to the police statement. The district attorney said he and the police chief "are committed to ensuring justice is served on each case. Amanda Branan, president of the Dallas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, said she was thankful for the disclosure so defense attorneys could request trial postponements. Branan also said she was concerned that evidence that might strengthen defendants' cases might have been lost, so the police department needed to identify which cases the data loss affects. Investigators then will have to retrace their steps and restore the lost evidence.

(Read more computer glitch stories.)

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