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Dallas police lost about 8 terabytes of files related to pending cases, officials say

In April 2021, the city discovered that multiple terabytes of DPD data had been deleted while moving data involving a DPD network drive.

DALLAS — Updated Aug. 12 to include information regarding a letter from the mayor.

City and county leaders are trying to examine the scope of a data loss after approximately eight terabytes of Dallas Police Department information was deleted in April, officials said Wednesday.

The Dallas County District Attorney's office shared the disclosure, since it may impact some cases. It's possible that much of the missing evidence was already updated to the data portal prior to the data loss, said District Attorney John Creuzot.

In a memo, the office said that on Aug. 6, it was notified by the Dallas Police Department and the city's IT department that in April 2021, the city discovered that multiple terabytes of DPD data had been deleted while moving data involving a DPD network drive.

"This is an unfortunate situation, but we’ve been working closely with City ITS to ascertain what occurred to our files, are missing files retrievable, and how to ensure this doesn’t happen again," Chief Eddie Garcia said in a statement. "I have spoken to DA Creuzot, and we will be working through whatever issues arise together."

The data loss applies to cases with offense dates before July 28, 2020. Anyone who believes their case was impacted by this issue is asked to submit a written request to the trial prosecutor, the memo said. 

"At this time, it is too soon to estimate how many cases will be affected and what the impact will be on those individual cases," Creuzot said in a statement. "Chief Garcia and I have been in constant communication on this over the past few days and are committed to ensuring justice is served on each case."

On Aug. 9, the police department shared more information with the attorney's office: 22 terabytes of data were deleted from March 31 to April 5, according to officials. About 14 terabytes were recovered but approximately eight Terabytes remain missing and are believed to be unrecoverable, the memo said.

One Terabyte (or 1,000 gigabytes) is equivalent to about 16 iPhones, the 512GB model.

The City of Dallas became aware of the issue on April 5 when DPD users noticed certain files were missing, the memo said. The City of Dallas is working on a plan to specifically identify affected cases, the memo said.

The attorney's office asked DPD for a date range of affected cases to narrow down the scope of potentially impacted cases.

The data loss does not affect "direct file" cases, such as cases without a detective, DWI, evading arrest and unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon, the memo said.

On Thursday, WFAA obtained a letter sent from Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson two two committee chairs who oversee public safety and government performance and financial management. Johnson said the news of the lost files was "especially stunning because this problem apparently had been known to some City of Dallas officials for months."

"This is a very serious matter. Public safety is the bedrock of our city government," Johnson said in the letter. "Missing evidence could have major consequences for pending criminal cases, which could leave victims without justice and undermine our efforts to build a safer city."

He requested a joint special-called meeting of the committees to discuss the file deletion, the lack of communication from city staff about what transpired and the steps that are being taken and how to prevent it from happening in the future.

Prosecutors have been instructed to verify with the filing detective that all evidence and files were shared with the attorney's office before disposing of the case, the DA's memo said.

Should there be any missing files in a case, the prosecutor will make a written disclosure based upon the information communicated by DPD.

District Attorney John Cruezot released a statement on the matter, saying his office is now working with the DPD to determine how many cases are affected by the City’s data loss in April. 

"At this time, it is too soon to estimate how many cases will be affected and what the impact will be on those individual cases," he said. "Chief Garcia and I have been in constant communication on this over the past few days and are committed to ensuring justice is served on each case."

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