The City of Chicago is set to delete its gang database after politicians complained that it had too large a proportion of African Americans and Hispanics.
Reports indicate that the gang database held over 25,000 names of individuals believed to be affiliated with 400 or more gangs. However, the Cook County Board believed this tool to be racist, and voted on a bill that required its permanent destruction, and will prohibit police from ever restarting such a list.
The vote was the death knell for the contentious database, also called the Regional Gang Intelligence Database. Last month, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office announced it had “terminated” the database, a decision that came after no other law enforcement agency agreed to host it.
The ordinance, which takes effect immediately, prohibits the Cook County Sheriff’s Office from maintaining, re-creating or sharing information on the database. It also mandates the sheriff’s office to “enact the final destruction” of the tool.
This has become a popular campaign issue in Chicago, as a mayoral candidate had previously pledged to delete the database if elected. They believe that it is unfair for gang members to become part of a database, saying that the methods for having one’s name entered into the database or getting it out of the database were unknown.
Chicago politicians also complained that the database had entirely too many African Americans and Hispanics listed, even though research indicates the overwhelming majority of gang members are not white. On average, around 10 to 15 per cent of gang members are white.
This decision comes as Chicago is facing intense levels of violence.
While the total number of homicides in Chicago dropped last year, the city remained number one in the nation for murders. In just one weekend in 2018, 61 residents of Chicago were shot, and 8 died from the injuries they suffered.
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