CHICAGO (CBS/AP) — Chicago’s inspector general has released a withering review of the Chicago Police Department’s so-called gang database, urging a dramatic revamp, claiming it is filled with inaccuracies, and doesn’t provide a proper appeals process.
The database is a collection of more than 120,000 people who police maintain have gang affiliations or associations.
A 159-page report urges a reevaluation of the database’s usefulness compared to the resentment it can engender; and calls for the creation of a clear appeals process for getting names purged from it when people believe they have been wrongly added to the list, or are no longer tied to a gang.
The inspector general said there’s not one unified database, but rather many different places where the data is stored, and 95 percent of the people in those files are black or Hispanic. That’s caused many residents to fear they are being unfairly targeted.
The database also has strained relations between communities and police.
“There is a lot of misinformation; a lot of lack of clarity around how this information is used, how it’s stored, what the criteria are for being put into this to be designated as a gang member. This has led to a lot of concern and fear among folks who are designated this way,” deputy inspector general Joseph Lipari said.
Among 30 recommendations to the police and city:
- Evaluating the information to assess whether it’s useful in crime-fighting efforts – at times that should be done in conjunction with community members;
- Providing greater training for police officers on how to use the information;
- Inventorying all of the locations where the information resides;
- Notifying individuals when they are placed in the gang database.
A 2018 civil rights lawsuit alleged the database names up to 195,000 people, including many who were never in gangs. Those in it are more likely to be denied bond after arrest and find it harder to land jobs.
The inspector general’s office said Chicago police have committed to improvements but that some police proposals “substantially diverge” from report recommendations.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)