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Monday, July 4, 2022

Dallas city manager knew about police department’s data loss

City councilmembers grilled Manager T.C. Broadnax and his staff about why they failed to inform the mayor and council when the data loss was discovered in April.

DALLAS — Who knew what and when? These are the questions Dallas City Council wanted answered. 

“Many councilmembers have expressed shock and frustration about the incident and how it was handled,” said Cara Mendelsohn, with Dallas City Council.

City Manager T.C.  Broadnax was in the hot seat for not letting the council know about a major data loss that impacted Dallas Police Department files. Councilmembers grilled him and Assistant City Manager Jon Fortune. 

“What I can’t understand is why the council and the D.A. were not notified for four months,” said Mendelsohn. 

Broadnax knew in April that 22 terabytes of Dallas police data disappeared, but the council didn’t know anything until the news broke last week.

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

“I found out about it on Channel 8 news. I was embarrassed to find out about it on the news,” said Casey Thomas, with Dallas City Council. 

Broadnax said he and his staff didn’t think to say anything, because he didn’t believe the issue was that serious. He said the data lost involved only archived information that was duplicated on other computers and systems within the Dallas Police Department, and his staff was working on retrieving the data. 

He said 14 terabytes were restored almost immediately.

“The responsibility to communicate did not live up to my expectations or to the council, and the community and I acknowledge we could have done better,” said Broadnax. 

Broadnax said one employee was responsible for all of this when he didn’t follow protocols while transferring data from a Dallas PD server, and he said there should have been more safeguards to prevent this from happening.

“There should not be the possibility that one employee, one individual can take such an action,” said Bill Zielinski, Dallas chief information officer.

 Dallas police said no body camera footage or files involving major cases like homicides were impacted. It involved older files and cases.  

“The key word is archived data. We are talking about data we did not touch or detectives did not touch or administrators did not touch for 18 months,” said First Assistant Chief Al Martinez, Dallas police.

Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia said the department was made aware of the issue in April and issued a memo that went out to the entire department letting them know to check their files. He instructed them to report any missing files. The department then worked with the City to restore the files. 

Chief Garcia also said prosecutors in the District Attorney’s Office were made aware.

“In July, detectives were having conversations with the District Attorney’s Office about files missing,” said Asst. City Manager Jon Fortune, City of Dallas. 

Chief Garcia said the impact may be minimal, but they are going through all the cases to make sure all evidence is there.  

The City said it’s putting safeguards in place so it doesn’t happen again, and are disciplining the employee who made the error.    

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