The Chicago Police Department is planning to reintroduce their controversial gang database.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the Criminal Enterprise Information System is scheduled to launch within the next six to 12 months and aims to ultimately replace CPD’s existing gang database, which has been characterized as ineffective, inaccurate and outdated.
“The vast majority of our shootings and homicides are either gang-involved or gang-related,” Interim CPD Supt. Charlie Beck said in an interview Wednesday (February 26), according to the Sun-Times. “Having an information system that allows us to track and account for gang members, specific to the gangs that they’re involved with is an indispensable investigative tool to deal with these issues.”
The city’s Office of the Inspector General was the target of a blistering report issued last year over its existing gang “database,” which includes more than 134,000 names. The report described it as a collection of outdated information stored in a host of different places.
“OIG found that CPD has captured, reported, and visualized gang-related data in at least 18 different forms, records, and systems of records in the past 10 years, although CPD was not able to definitively account for all such information in its possession and control,” the audit read.
The report claims CPD’s gang data methods of collection worsen the already poor relationship between people of color and police.
“These [gang member] designations may contribute to a variety of adverse consequences for individuals and communities in, among others, law enforcement, criminal justice, immigration and employment contexts,” the report reads.
According to Beck, the new system will centralize his department’s gang information and there will be strict criteria in order to add a new person to the database.
Beck also claims a person will only be added to the gang database if they have admitted to being in a gang within the last five years and their statement is recorded on video. If there is no video, they must meet two of six other criteria to be added to the list.
Those six criteria include, “An unrecorded self-admission, wearing of distinctive gang emblems or tattoos, evidence from a reliable confidential informant within the last two years, the use of distinctive gang signs, being identified as a gang member by another governmental or penal institution, or being arrested, charged or convicted of a crime where gang membership is an element of the offense or is documented in the court record.”
Beck says, according to the Sun-Times, that if someone believes they are incorrectly included in the database, they will be able to appeal it to the nine-member Chicago Police Board that metes out discipline to officers accused of misconduct.
In 2018, a coalition of community groups filed a federal lawsuit against the city, seeking to have the database deemed unconstitutional. That lawsuit is still reportedly proceeding.