Alleged Cyber Attack Hinders City’s Violent Crime Plan

Cyber Attack
Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia | Image by Eddie Garcia/Twitter

The Dallas Express spoke with Dallas Police Department (DPD) Police Chief Eddie Garcia about the purported ransomware attack against City servers earlier this month.

As previously reported, City officials claimed that the computer systems used to maintain Dallas crime statistics had been compromised. The Dallas Express has not been able to verify whether the alleged ransomware attack is responsible for the City’s computer network failures.

While the alleged attack may have resulted in certain public-facing crime dashboards not getting updated with accurate information, it has also reportedly impeded DPD’s efforts at getting violent crime under control.

Garcia said the alleged cyberattack has directly affected the department’s ability to gather and assimilate crime data, which is critical for the City’s Violent Crime Reduction Plan.

“It’s definitely hampered us, there’s no question about it,” Garcia told The Dallas Express. He noted that the City’s data problems began at the beginning of the summer, typically one of the busiest times for police.

The crime reduction plan relies on using the City’s crime data to identify violent crime hotspots around Dallas. According to DPD’s outline of the plan:

“Drawing from a substantial body of research on the positive impact that hot spots policing can have on reducing violence, this plan begins with a short-term focus on substantially increasing police visibility at micro locations … where violent crime is concentrated and prioritizing street-level deterrence and arrest of repeat offenders in these areas.”

Now, with virtually no crime data for the month of May, DPD cannot carry out the crime reduction plan as it was initially developed by criminology faculty at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

“The criminologists are waiting for the data so we can start working on the next grids — because we switch every 60 days — and so now we’re operating more from a historic perspective … going into the summer,” Garcia explained. “We’re getting some information, but it’s hampered our ability to really be data-driven, so we’re very much anxious to get back online.”

Despite logging modest reductions in some categories of violent crime over the last year, murder increased by more than 20% year over year in the first four months of 2023. As of May 1, 95 people have been murdered in Dallas, according to a report by DPD.

Still, Garcia reiterated to The Dallas Express that despite the ongoing issues affecting the police department, including a significant staffing shortage that City leaders have yet to resolve, officers would continue to serve the people of Dallas.

“The community knows where our hearts are at,” said Garcia. “And certainly, I’ve seen nothing but tremendous support for our men and women in every neighborhood here in the city of Dallas.”

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