The Texas criminal database, riddled with holes four years ago, has just as many gaps today, the Dallas Morning News reports. Although officials in Dallas and other poorly reporting counties promised in 2004 to do better, the Department of Public Safety says counties in the most recent assessment submitted outcomes on just 69 percent of criminal charges – the same percentage as before. “That’s astonishing. That’s leaving a substantial total number of criminals unreported in the system,” said John Bradley, Williamson County district attorney. “That’s the biggest threat to public safety that you can imagine, particularly in a post-9/11 time when we rely on databases to protect the public.”
Angie Klein, manager of the DPS criminal history records bureau, attributed the lack of progress to slow resolution of many felony cases, and glitches in big urban counties, which can bring down statewide compliance rates. “It’s hard to keep trained personnel,” she said. Allen Clemson, Dallas County court administrator, said officials in smaller cities may forget to tell the state when they drop charges. Bradley said the records gap causes prosecutors, ignorant of a conviction, to be more lenient than they should. He said the biggest threat is to officers making traffic stops. If they can’t get “accurate and timely dispatching information” about a driver, they don’t know when to take precautions, he said.