The Chicago Police Department will roll out a new system that tracks citizens and identifies if they are gang members.
The system comes nearly four years after a city watchdog warned that the records were riddled with errors, ripe for abuse, and racially profiled Chicago Blacks and Latinos.
Meetings for the plan
The plan is expected to go ahead despite objections from the Interim Community Commission on Public Safety and Accountability.
They are scheduled to meet virtually on the evening of November 28 to discuss the new draft policy for the new gang database.
The database is also called Criminal Enterprise Information System or CEIS.
Commission Chairman Anthony Driver said the department informed the Commission early last month that the new system would be rolled out on October 28.
Mayor Mori Lightfoot appointed Driver.
The first meeting between commissioners and department officials left Driver with more questions than answers.
Additionally, Driver said the Commission asked for the system’s launch to be postponed.
Efforts for additional scheduled meetings were unsuccessful.
As a result, the new draft policy for the gang database policy was posted on the Chicago Police Department’s website on November 7.
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Citizens of Chicago have until December 7 to weigh in on the rules.
However, the rules appear to be the same as the draft policy published in November 2021.
This is because the policy was never finalized.
“The public has a right to be informed,” said Anthony Driver.
He added that while Inspector General Deborah Witzburg’s office plans to attend Monday’s meeting, Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown has not responded to the invitation.
“The city and the police department got it wrong the first time and multiple times since,” said Driver.
“We cannot afford to get it wrong again.”
Chicago Police Department spokesman Tom Ahern said department heads conducted a comprehensive assessment of gang data collected in the past.
The assessment should ensure that the information in the CEIS is correct based on the new criteria.
Nor did they rule out meetings with the Commission.
“It’s important that this system is built on fair and constitutional policing, and that the appropriate amount of time is taken to ensure it is aligned with CPD’s commitment to reform,” said Ahern.
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The draft policy
According to the policy, officials must have “specific, documented and reliable information” within five years before adding anyone to the database.
However, the policy does not require those already on the list to be notified of their inclusion or informed about how to appeal their designation as a gang member in Chicago.
The draft policy allows people to learn they are included in the database only by going to:
- Police headquarters
- One of the county’s five police stations
- The offices of Chicago city clerks.
Additionally, parents of teens added to the database can appeal on their behalf.
The Chicago Police Department would then have to respond within 90 days.
People can still be added to the database if two or more criteria are met, including:
- Wearing clothing with gang emblems
- Tattoos of gang insignia
- Being identified as a gang member in the court record of a criminal charge
However, according to the policy, those in the database must be deleted after five years if they are no longer eligible for inclusion in the system.
More than 3 years after watchdog warned Chicago Police gang databases were ‘deeply flawed,’ new system poised to launch despite objections