Portland police next month will end their more than 20-year-old practice of designating people as gang members or gang associates in response to strong community concerns about the labels that have disproportionately affected minorities.
The Police Bureau recognizes that the gang designations have led to "unintended consequences'' and served as lifelong barriers for those who have shunned the gang lifestyle and tried to get jobs, said Acting Tactical Operations Capt. Andy Shearer.
A review by Oregonian/OregonLive reporter Carli Brosseau last year found that of the 359 "criminal gang affiliates'' flagged in Portland's database as of last summer, 81 percent were part of a racial or ethnic minority. She obtained the list, names removed, only after appealing the city's attempt to keep it from public view...
Eighty-one percent is a racial minority. Oh, is that out of the ordinary? Not really, according to the National Gang Center. According to them, eighty one precent of gang members are black or brown:
|Hispanic or Latino||Black or African American||White||All Other|
Leaders from Black Male Achievement, former police Assistant Chief Kevin Modica and others have lobbied to end the designations
"Gang violence isn't going to go away. There are still crimes attributed to known gang sets. There are still criminal gang members. That doesn't go away because we don't have a gang designation,'' said Capt. Mike Krantz, who helped spearhead the change. "We're not pretending gang violence doesn't exist. We're just taking this one thing away..."
Police will send out letters to everyone on the gang list alerting them that the bureau will purge all documents related to the designations. The new policy will take effect Oct. 15.
"It takes courage for the bureau to take this step,'' said C.J. Robbins, program coordinator for Black Male Achievement.
He applauded Modica and others in the bureau who responded to his group's concerns and "acknowledged, 'Hey this is not OK.'"
"This is too long coming,'' said Mayor Ted Wheeler, who serves as the city's police commissioner. "It was the right thing to do."
Wheeler, who recently selected the first African American woman to serve as the bureau's new police chief, said the decision shows that city police are committed to rebuilding trust with the community.
The Oregonian/OregonLive review of the controversial gang affiliation database showed that police labeled someone a "criminal gang affiliate'' more than 100 times each year, without a conviction, without an arrest. Police were able to add someone to the list if the person self-identified as a member of a gang, participated in a gang initiation ritual, committed a gang-related crime or displayed two or more observable signs of gang membership.
Those labels would pop up as a red flag when officers ran someone's name on their mobile computer database. Nicknames, employers, schools, vehicles and associates were included in the gang designation reports...People must earn themselves into a gang, and onto the database. You can get yourself out of the database, but that takes work, like getting out of a gang.
I'm recalling a Marine Reserve major who handled an issue for forces deployed to Iraq in the mid-2000s. We would have people approach our facilities and we would document their "names," etc. But we had no database to query to see if they were friendly or not. The man, on his 2 week leave, got with his company and developed a portable fingerprint machine and tied it to an online database. And soon enough we could determine who was spying on our men. It's called intelligence collection.
Portland is about to purge over 20 years of data for political pressure from radical racial groups. You reap what you sew ladies and gentlemen. How many experienced gang investigators will simply say, "Screw this, I'm out of here, ain't worth the aggravation anymore." How soon before murder rates start skyrocketing throughout Portland and it's suburbs? Tell me Portland PD, will you query the NCIC files of the ANTIFA and BLM terrorist tearing up your streets? Wait, you love those people. so likely no.
Decades of work destroyed, for nothing. Portland PD (the "leadership," not the rank and file) are committing a crime against your men and the citizens of the city your are sworn to protect. Soon to be Chief Outlaw (what a name!), stop this before you inflict a lot of pain on your department and city.