DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – An oversight by the Dallas Police Department exposed the personal information of hundreds of violent crime victims to the public.
In a CBS 11 News exclusive, reporter J.D. Miles spoke to more than a dozen violent crime victims who are surprised by what they found on the DPD website.
Dallas police admit to inadvertently posting the phone numbers of hundreds of violent crime victims online. Those victims, who were reluctant to go on camera, told J.D. they now worry about retaliation and harassment, all because of what’s being called an oversight.
DPD got its crime reports back online last week, after being unavailable for more than a month. The technical issues were the result of the installation of a new computerized system that has been anything but glitch free.
In June, the system was also the cause of suspected criminals being mistakenly freed from jail. Now, hundreds of violent crime victims had their phones numbers inadvertently posted for the public to see.
Department officials received a complaint about the information on Monday, when people started noticing the phone numbers on offense reports for serious crimes. In addition to the contact information, there were also details about when and where the crimes were committed against the victims. While releasing the phone numbers is legal, it’s not standard practice.
CBS 11 found phone numbers on hundreds of reports, dating back two months, involving assaults and aggravated assaults.
Authorities said the problems with the computer system were fixed Wednesday and that all of the phone numbers on reports previously posted have been removed.
Dallas police Deputy Chief Christina Smith said, “We’re continuing to fine-tune the public portal. There will be additional reports that will be made available, so it’s still a work in progress.”
Crime victim advocates say publishing sensitive information can put those who’ve already been victimized at risk again.
Jan Langbein, the CEO of the Genesis Shelter, said, “Possibly the most dangerous piece of this is rather than an assault by somebody who knows you, because that person knows your phone number, is rather a random crime where perhaps the perpetrator did not know that number and now has access to continue to re-victimize that victim.”
Officials explained that the phone numbers slipped through because the old online reports’ system needed to be told what to make public; the new system needs to be told what not to make public.
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