Cops Lost 8 TB of Criminal Case Data

In what has to be called a really bad oopsy, the Dallas Police Department, during a data migration effort back in March, lost 22 TB of data. This includes data from at least one murder case.

The Dallas DA said that the city of Dallas (as opposed to the DA) discovered the problem on April 5th and the City’s IT department was able to recover about 14 TB out of the 22 TB lost. The remaining 8 TB, they think, are gone forever.

The DA claims that their office didn’t hear about the problem until August 6th (I am not sure how or why this is possible, given a lot of data was missing).

They disclosed the facts that they know on August 11th.

It is possible that some of the information may be reconstructable from other systems. From what I can tell, the DA and the Police use different systems, so it is possible that some data may be recovered that way.

Apparently, the DA does not know how many or which cases were affected (another impressive feat).

Jonathan Pitts, a murder suspect who was supposed to go on trial on Thursday has, instead, been released on bail. Assuming that the data that would incriminate him is permanently lost, he will likely go free. A true “get out of jail free” card.

The DA says that even though the police know about the loss immediately, they did not bother to tell the DA for four months and the Mayor said he was blindsided.

Credit: The Register and The Dallas DA

Ignoring for a moment that potentially a number (unknown) of criminal defendants may go free, there is an opportunity for a “learning moment” here. Every IT team should look at this and see what went wrong and learn from it.

Apparently, this data migration process was destructive. Why? Was it not possible to preserve the old system?

Apparently, the backups were faulty or not tested or the data just wasn’t backed up. Why?

Why did it take 4 months to notify the affected parties?

Why didn’t anyone tell the boss (the Mayor) at the time. This is not like someone’s laptop crashed. This qualifies as a BIG problem.

It is conceivable that the police, the city and/or the DA could be sanctioned by the courts by withholding pretty important information while they were trying to cover their rear ends.

Why don’t they know what data was deleted?

And I am sure a hundred more questions.

If you run an IT shop, this is a good opportunity to look at your processes – just to make sure that next time I am not writing about you. Although I am an equal opportunity fella, so beware.

Just sayin’

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