CHICAGO (CBS) — A Southwest Side alderman has called on the Chicago Police Department to change the way it handles its broader street gang database system.
Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) said the database is too cumbersome, and is deeply flawed, because people might be listed who shouldn’t be.
The alderman said the department should notify the 340,000 people currently on its wider gang database that they’re on the list, and give them a chance to prove they’re not connected in any way to a gang and to have their names removed from the list.
“If we had a narrower list, with more accurate information, it would allow us to combat the violence that I see and other communities see every day,” he said.
Lopez said he doesn’t believe the list needs to be abolished altogether, just made more accurate.
“We have to clean this list up. We have to make it more efficient and effective,” he said.
He also said someone mistakenly listed in the database could wrongly face deportation for being included in the database.
“Nobody really knows who’s on this list. You don’t find about being on the list until it’s too late,” Lopez said.
The alderman estimated it would cost about $150,000 to notify people they’re on the list. He said it would be more cost effective than facing the possible cost of settling a lawsuit from someone wrongly listed in the database.
“It is well worth paying in advance than it is paying in a possible settlement in a lawsuit,” he said.
Lopez pointed out the database is separate from the department’s list of 1,600 known, violent gang members who police are keeping tabs on. He said lists like the broader gang database are only as useful as they are accurate.