The Dallas News last week ("Audit reveals flaws in how how Dallas County Sheriff's Department uses state, federal databases," June 19) detailed similar data entry problems in Dallas County to the one that led to falsely accusing Mr. Rothgery and launching his federal civil rights case. Reported the News:
A state audit of the Dallas County Sheriff's Department's use of state and federal criminal justice databases revealed a lack of required training as well as some inaccurate records.
In January, the Texas Department of Public Safety audited the department's use of the FBI's National Crime Information Center computer database as well as the state version, the Texas Crime Information Center system.
The audit said terminal operators must receive required training, as must Sheriff Lupe Valdez, Executive Chief Deputy Jesse Flores, Chief Deputy Gary Lindsey and two assistant chiefs.
The audit also found that some records that have been certified by the Sheriff's Department as being complete and accurate were inaccurate. Other records needed to be double-checked by a second person for accuracy.
For want of a nail, the shoe was lost, for want of a shoe, etc., etc. ... If data entry errors hadn't caused Rothgery to be falsely accused in the first place, Gillespie County would never have suffered the consequences from his wrongful arrest and detention, not to mention the cost and embarrassment of a loss at the US Supreme Court.
Data entry sounds like perhaps the most boring part of law enforcement duties. But in the modern information age - when errors can travel in seconds across the continent to compound themselves in other jurisdictions - it's more important than ever that criminal justice agencies get that stuff right.