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The Dangers of Gang Databases and Gang Policing

Updated: Nov 7, 2023

According to an article from The Appeal, gang databases and gang policing measures have been under scrutiny for their discriminatory practices, which carelessly criminalize people of color and expose them to wrongful arrests, convictions, and deportations. Source

The article highlights that the NYPD database labels over 18,000 people in New York City as active gang members, with nearly 99% of the people whose names are in the database being people of color. Furthermore, nearly 88% of the people in the database are Black or Latinx. If your name is entered into the database, you have no way of knowing about it and no way of contesting it. Source

The NYPD does not notify people when it classifies them as gang members and there is no mechanism for challenging the designation.

The article also mentions that across the country, people have been calling for significant reform of, or even an end to, gang databases and gang policing measures. In Chicago, where there is a police department database and a sheriff’s regional database, there have been numerous efforts to end their use entirely.

This year, the Cook County Board of Commissioners passed an ordinance to end use of the regional database and pave the way for its eventual destruction. The database included 25,000 names.

The Chicago Police Department database is several times that size, containing the names of an estimated 128,000 adults and at least 33,000 young people 17 and younger. Source

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