by TANYA EISERER WFAA
Posted on June 13, 2014 at 6:32 PM
DALLAS — For crime victims, seeking help is already painful and difficult enough.
Now, victims’ advocates like Bobbie Villareal are concerned that they may have to worry about their cases getting hung up in the Dallas Police Department’s new, $4 million records management system.
News 8 has learned that may have already happened in at least one domestic violence case.
“She had made the report. She was given an officer’s number. She had not been contacted back by a detective,” Villareal said. “And so she was calling back to the service provider to say, ‘Hey, what’s going on? I don’t have a case number. I still don’t have a detective assigned.'”
Villareal said the victim called the area hospital. Officials there were told the new system caused a delay in the case being assigned.
The department launched the new system June 1, which replaced its decades-old mainframe system. It’s been beset by problems since it went live.
News 8 told you yesterday about convicted burglar Willie Brown and two other criminals who were mistakenly released. Their cases didn’t make it to the district attorney’s office in time. Brown remains at large.
“This is a safety issue,” Villareal said. “This isn’t somebody being released from jail on a property crime.” Victims’ advocates say part of what frustrates them is that DPD didn’t tell them that they were launching the new system, so they weren’t ready to deal with potential problems.
Dallas police officials have already acknowledged that about 800 police reports have gone unprocessed.
“We’re on the steep side of the learning curve right now,” Maj. Scott Bratcher said Thursday. “Things seem to be getting better. We knew this was going to have a big impact on the department. We were just a little bit short on our expectations of how big an impact it was going to be.”
Dallas police officials say they can’t confirm the specific incident described by Villareal. They spoke with hospital officials Friday afternoon, and are in the process of trying to make contact with the victim to ensure that her case has been properly handled.
They also say they’ve put procedures in place to prevent cases from falling through the cracks, including assigning detectives to compare call sheets to police reports to ensure follow up on cases.
Police expect the bugs and glitches to soon be worked out. For victims’ advocates like Villareal, that can’t come soon enough.