Portland Police Are Purging Their Gang Database Because There Aren’t Enough White Gangs
Portland police will no longer maintain a database of suspected gang members, due to concerns that the vast majority of people with the gang label are racial minorities.
Starting Oct. 15, the Portland Police Bureau will end the 20-year practice of issuing gang member designations, which police say can lead to “unintended consequences” and a lifelong stigma even for those who have given up the gang lifestyle. Officials intend to notify the approximately 300 people on the gang list that the bureau will purge all records related to the designations, The Oregonian reported.
“There are still criminal gang members. That doesn’t go away because we don’t have a gang designation,” said Capt. Mike Krantz, according to The Oregonian. “We’re not pretending gang violence doesn’t exist. We’re just taking this one thing away.”
City officials and community activists had long urged the bureau to stop attaching the gang designation to criminal suspects, claiming the practice disproportionately impacted people of color. A review of police data by The Oregonian last year found that 81 percent of the “criminal gang affiliates” in Portland’s database were racial or ethnic minorities.
“This is too long coming,” said Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, who is also the city’s police commissioner. “It was the right thing to do.”