Chicago PD's Gang Database Is A Horrific Mess Compiled By Horrific Public Servants

from the when-all-you-really-want-is-a-shitlist-filled-with-minorities dept

The easiest way to control a certain percentage of the populace is to strip it of its humanity. It happens in prisons and jails every day. It happens to immigrants all the time. For the Chicago Police Department, dehumanizing the citizens they serve makes it that much easier to minimize their complaints and avoid treating them with any level of respect.

The City of Chicago's Inspector General has released a hefty, disturbing report [PDF] on the Chicago PD's gang database. This collection of people -- all lumped together as gang members or associates -- is shared with over 500 government agencies. Given this alarming fact, you'd think the CPD would be a bit more professional when compiling it. But you'd be wrong. The thing that leaps out immediately is how demeaning the database is, thanks to officers' input.

[S]ome entries raise serious concerns about how CPD officers perceive and treat the people with whom they interact. OIG found that CPD officers entered occupations for individuals on gang arrest cards that included "SCUM BAG," "BUM," "CRIMINAL," "BLACK," "DORK," "LOOSER [sic]," and "TURD."

This epitome of community policing is being turned out on every governmental street corner. 500 agencies have made nearly one million inquiries of this finely-sourced database over the past decade. Whatever they were looking for was most likely black, male, and residing in certain Chicago neighborhoods. Not because that's what these other agencies were actually searching for, but because that's all the Chicago PD had entered into the database.

Of the 134,242 individuals designated as gang members in Gang Arrest Cards over the past 20 years, Black or African American and Latinx males comprise 91.3%.

[...]

Thirteen of the City's 77 community areas account for over 50% of Gang Arrest Cards produced.

GIGO at scale. And with zero avenues of redress for those the officers have arbitrarily declared "gang members."

Over 15,000 individuals designated as gang members by CPD had no specific gang membership listed and no reason provided for why the individual was listed as a gang member. Individuals designated as gang members are not notified of their designation and have no ability to appeal the designation. CPD does not regularly review, correct, or purge inaccurate gang information; those with inaccurate designations have no opportunity to clear their name and mitigate the impact of incorrect or outdated gang designations. Ultimately, CPD's gang designations are permanent and inescapable. Once designated, an individual is listed as a gang member in CPD's system forever.

Since the CPD certainly isn't informing other agencies of the multiple, self-induced flaws in the data, the million searches returned highly-questionable intel these outside agencies likely believed was the result of actual investigations, rather than biased policing.

Needless to say, the gang database has done a significant amount of damage to the CPD's reputation and its relationship with the communities it serves. Residents view the gang database as just another way for cops to target minorities and make their lives miserable. This impression isn't wrong. The database is a confirmation bias machine, allowing cops to believe most minorities are gang members because the database says most minorities are gang members.

No one outside the CPD has the power to vet the information contained in the database and the CPD hardly seems worried about the inaccuracies it contains, much less the slurs listed as "occupations" or the fact that it's 91% minorities. The Inspector General's review of records noticed a ton of discrepancies, including multiple entries for the same people (thanks to clerical/paperwork errors) and individuals listed as being under the age of ten, despite other records showing them to be nearly a decade older than the gang database said they were.

The sloppy handling of data would be concerning on its own. The fact that this database tells over 500 outside government agencies a person is a gang member makes this inattention to detail horrific. The CPD is shrugging thousands of people onto a gang list with zero care for the collateral damage it's causing.

6,233 individuals designated with multiple race classifications, and 903 individuals designated with multiple gender classifications.

21,380 individuals designated with multiple dates of birth, approximately 15.9% of the total number of individuals, and 922 individuals of the 21,380 had dates of birth that could not be determined. This includes two individuals in the Gang Arrest Cards data whose ages were listed as 6 and 7 respectively however, both individuals had multiple dates of birth listed.98

15,174 individuals with no specific gang designation, despite being listed as gang members approximately 11.3% of the total number of individuals.

15,648 individuals designated as gang members never had a reason provided by CPD for this designation in any Gang Arrest Card, approximately 11.7% of the total number of individuals. Further, 24,151 Gang Arrest Card records had no reason provided for the designation.

The IG offers a list of recommendations, but no one should hold their breath waiting for the CPD to implement them. Unsurprisingly, the IG suggests the CPD try to approach adequate competency when gathering info on suspected gang members and entering it into the system. More importantly, the IG says the CPD needs to ensure the accuracy of what it already has, purge everything that isn't (or is outdated), and provide a way for citizens to challenge their addition to this database, which means adding a notification method.

Anyway, re: your breath:

CPD's response and proposed measures diverge from the OIG's recommendations in several critical ways. The Department's response indicates that CPD will not engage with community stakeholders in the fashion that OIG recommends.

In other words, thanks for all the help, but we'll take it from here and possibly make it even worse. There's nothing in these reforms the CPD wants or needs, so it will slow-walk its minimal improvements while proceeding with the gang-tagging business as usual. And why should it change? The city is filled with people officers don't consider people.

Filed Under: chicago, chicago pd, gang database


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 May 2019 @ 4:44pm

    just sloppy paperwork

    so if U.S. police departments just kept more neat and tidy databases on citizens all would be well ?

    Chicago PD is merely guilty of sloppy paperwork and loose administrative procedures?

    Secret police databases on all kinds of citizens are just fine otherwise, right?

    No. The main point is that our police should NOT be maintaining ANY hidden databases or dossiers on citizens.
    Such activity is the mark of a police state, not a free society.

    Our judicial system maintains detailed, public records on people formally accused and/or convicted of crimes. Standard rap sheets lets LEOs know who the bad guys are.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 3 May 2019 @ 4:51pm

    'Lemme just pencil that in for the 32nd of Never.' -CPD

    The IG offers a list of recommendations, but no one should hold their breath waiting for the CPD to implement them. Unsurprisingly, the IG suggests the CPD try to approach adequate competency when gathering info on suspected gang members and entering it into the system.

    Stop suggesting, start telling, and be prepared to bring the hammer down hard for non-compliance. So long as 'oversight' agencies like that only issue 'suggestions', and have neither the will nor power to hand out actual punishments gangs such as the CPD have no reason to care, and even less reason to change.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 3 May 2019 @ 5:19pm

    Sounds like evidence of institutionalized racism.

    If ever it might make a difference to argue that racism is not merely endemic buy systemic in the Cook County legal system, we have a big fat piece of evidence.

    The only reason we're not taking it seriously is because we're expecting our institutions to continue to degrade and fall apart more for the foreseeable future.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Jake, 4 May 2019 @ 9:03am

      Re: Sounds like evidence of institutionalized racism.

      So, what is this "evidence" you speak of? I'm all for calling out racism when I can actually see it, but not just because I don't like what it says.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 5 May 2019 @ 4:24pm

        Re: Re: Sounds like evidence of institutionalized racism.

        The fact "BLACK" was listed among the mocking occupations for one? Kinda shows they think it is a bad thing and don't care about accuracy.

        Of those only "BUM" is remotely defensible - the guy really may have been homeless and supported himself through dumpster diving and begging - and even then more professional terminology would be warranted.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Jake, 5 May 2019 @ 4:45pm

          Re: Re: Re: Sounds like evidence of institutionalized racism.

          "The fact "BLACK" was listed among the mocking occupations for one? Kinda shows they think it is a bad thing and don't care about accuracy."

          Definitely something internal affairs needs to look at, but hardly evidence of "institutionalized racism."

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            nasch (profile), 6 May 2019 @ 2:32pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Sounds like evidence of institutionalized racism

            Definitely something internal affairs needs to look at, but hardly evidence of "institutionalized racism."

            Do you think police officers listing "black" as an occupation is not institutional, or not racist?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Wendy Cockcroft (profile), 8 May 2019 @ 2:34am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Sounds like evidence of institutionalized ra

              From where I sit, it's both. Why? Nobody in the Department appears to have called it out, for a start. Racist? Hell yeah. Think of all the negative connotations attached to that word and you'll understand why officer Klucker put it in the "Occupation" box.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      mephistophocles (profile), 4 May 2019 @ 11:47am

      Re: Sounds like evidence of institutionalized racism.

      It is bigotry, but not racism persay (because it's not against a particular skin color or ethnicity). It's against the poor. Latinos and blacks unfortunately tend to be disproportionally at the bottom end of the financial spectrum (mostly for reasons that aren't their fault, which I won't go into here), and that's why this kind of thing is often being perceived as rascism against a particular ethnic minority.

      Ironically, I think most cops do assume that a member of a racial minority who isn't obviously rich must be a criminal - although that's starting to change, since the growing wealth disparity means being white doesn't automatically mean you're financially comfortable. Regardless, the point remains - if you're poor, (bad) cops will generally treat you as sub-human, and vice versa - and so does the government in general.

      In Amerika, money = power = freedom. Without money, you'll have neither power nor freedom.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Jake, 4 May 2019 @ 12:41pm

        Re: Re: Sounds like evidence of institutionalized racism.

        What you just wrote is a complete generalization based on absolutely no evidence. You exemplify in your post what you accuse law enforcement of doing (on a large scale basis) without any evidence.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          AnonyOps, 5 May 2019 @ 9:11am

          Re: Re: Re: Sounds like evidence of institutionalized racism.

          That's how capitalism works Jake or have you just fallen from a turnip truck in the last 40 years.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Jake, 5 May 2019 @ 4:48pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Sounds like evidence of institutionalized racism

            "That's how capitalism works Jake or have you just fallen from a turnip truck in the last 40 years."

            >>>Please come up with an original thought of your own. The communo-socialist talking points are old.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              AnonyOps, 7 May 2019 @ 6:04am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Sounds like evidence of institutionalized ra

              It only sounds old because you have fall off a Turnip truck in the last 40 years greenhorn.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 May 2019 @ 7:08am

        "Here, have a Class Warfare, with a free shot of Racism"

        It's probably a combination of both; what's worse is that the effects of the two are synergistic, not just additive. (Kind of like two poisons which abet the effects of each other so that you are in worse shape than the individual toxidromes added together.)

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Thad (profile), 6 May 2019 @ 8:23am

        Re: Re: Sounds like evidence of institutionalized racism.

        It is bigotry, but not racism persay (because it's not against a particular skin color or ethnicity). It's against the poor. Latinos and blacks unfortunately tend to be disproportionally at the bottom end of the financial spectrum (mostly for reasons that aren't their fault, which I won't go into here), and that's why this kind of thing is often being perceived as rascism against a particular ethnic minority.

        Except that black and Latino people are disproportionately targeted by law enforcement even when controlling for economic class.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Uriel-238 (profile), 6 May 2019 @ 10:16am

        The racist did racism which was racist

        Looking at Trump's racist policies, people are separated into whites and non-whites (which is funny because Irish will cut you for calling them Scots as will Prussians if you confuse them for Austrians) still, as I've noted elsewhere, ICE and CBP don't give a jot of concern about undocumented ex-Soviets here in California. San Francisco has districts full of them. We're only worried about the ones that come from Mexican countries.

        Racism doesn't have to be specific. A policy doesn't have to single out blacks separate from Puerto Ricans, or favor Dutch but not Italians to be racist. In fact, false intersections are typical as most racism comes from ignorance: Those who look wrong vs. those who don't.

        (Curiously, we have atheists and Muslims to thank for Christianity being waved around as a false collective by the religious right. In the 70s when Muslims were weirdos in the middle east and atheists were a handful of philosophy and science nerds, the different churches hated each other. Liberal and non-political churches still exist, but they don't make much noise.)

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    AnonyOps, 3 May 2019 @ 8:27pm

    You want fascism? Because this is how we get to fascism.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rog S., 4 May 2019 @ 7:24am

    organized gang stalking and slander

    Excellent work here, Mr. Cushing.

    Excellent.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jake, 4 May 2019 @ 9:07am

    "Whatever they were looking for was most likely black, male, and residing in certain Chicago neighborhoods."

    >>Whatever they were looking for? That would be WHOMever they were looking for. That is unless you are the one dehumanizing people.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    TRX, 4 May 2019 @ 11:21am

    or the fact that it's 91% minorities.

    Given the demographic makeup of Chicago, there's nothing questionable about that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 May 2019 @ 9:10am

      Re:

      Nonwhite people being overrepresented in anything bad, or underrepresented in anything good, is inherently a problem to certain people. Chicago PD should register every white offender they get their hands on so the database can get back to something resembling parity, I guess.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2019 @ 6:02pm

    Every Government List or Database

    Every Government List or Database That directly or indirectly refers to a particular Citizen by name or address should have an adversarial process that includes notification and redress.

    A Government of the people should not have secret lists of citizens.
    Think about that: our government is keeping secret lists of assumed and unverified citizen attributes. Be afraid comrades. Be VERY AFRAID.

    (now this IP address is on a secret government list)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    dork, 5 May 2019 @ 5:35am

    talking about dorks and snowflakes

    the first dork is jack dorkey, the marxist piece of shit fag running twitter and then all his jew friends who are trying to destroy free speech and the 1st amendment: google jews, Suckerberg and so on.

    They

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Rog S., 5 May 2019 @ 7:56am

      Re: talking about dorks and snowflakes

      Dork, youre obviously the kid with the Nazi-ish dad, and the silently suffering shiksa wife who pretends shes Jewish at the PTA meetings.

      Or, Jared Loughner, after Israelification of college curriculum, and “community polucing on steroids ” went to his head.

      But you cant be both, so which is it?

      Oh, wait: Jared was both....

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 6 May 2019 @ 7:28am

    Thirteen of the City's 77 community areas account for over 50% of Gang Arrest Cards produced.

    This is actually not particularly surprising. By the 80-20 rule, we'd expect 15-16 out of 77 community areas to produce 80% of gang problems. The 50% mark being around 13 is more or less in line with that expectation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    VL, 6 May 2019 @ 9:19am

    Progressive

    "903 individuals designated with multiple gender classifications."
    That's surprisingly progressive for a PD.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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