DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas Police on Thursday confirmed another incident of misplaced paperwork involving family violence cases.
This comes as the department reviews a number of lost cases, involving one former detective who reportedly took nearly 2,300 cases home. This time, police say several boxes of investigative cases were found in an unused room.
“Just a room they thought was empty and it wound up having boxes in it,” says executive director of The Family Place, Paige Flink, who is on the front lines of domestic violence issues and has spoken to police about this latest development. “My first reaction was I appreciated that police take family violence seriously and they wanted to let us know there might be a problem.”
Police aren’t talking on camera, but in a prepared statement the department says the cases are being reviewed to determine if they were properly investigated. An audit is underway.
“They’re going to go through every file,” according to Flink, “My understanding is they don’t even know the dispensation of all the files they’ve come upon.”
This revelation comes on the heels of an earlier audit, which found a former detective kept hundreds of case files in the garage of his home. Detective Mickey East retired as the probe developed.
Police say he claimed he’d taken them because he was overworked and stored the files in his garage so he could work from home. But following a two-year examination of his nearly 2,300 cases, his supervisors determined that more than 500 victims had suffered additional abuse at the hands of the same suspect.
So far, two of East’s superiors have been disciplined. The department says six detectives and a sergeant have been added to the Family Violence Unit to work its cases.
“Based on the experience we had with the previous situation, they want to make sure, did the person get prosecuted as they should? Did something happen to the victim, and what can they do to help?,” said Flink.
She says she’s confident police learned from the earlier misplaced cases and that proper corrective steps will be taken this time around.
She says the first things a family violence victim wants is for the hurt to stop and to not be re-victimized.
“But also to be taken seriously so when a case isn’t followed-up on, or someone isn’t charged with a crime, what happens is the victim thinks, ‘I’m not going to get any support,’ and unfortunately that’s often what the abuse tells her is, ‘Nobody’s going to believe you. Nobody cares about you.’ And unfortunately it does reinforce that if nobody takes you seriously,” Flink said.