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The Chicago Police Department (CPD) is preparing to launch a new system to track citizens suspected of being gang members. Almost four years ago the city’s watchdog advised that the records were riddled with errors. Which lead to many Black and Latino Chicagoans being disproportionately targeted and abused.
On Monday at 6:30 p.m., the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability will be conducting a virtual meeting to discuss the latest draft of the policy that would govern the new gang database. It is being dubbed the Criminal Enterprise Information System (CEIS).
The commission was informed in early October that the CEIS would launch later in the month on the 28th, according to Commission President Anthony Driver. The commission asked department officials to delay the launch.
Driver added they attempted to schedule additional meetings, however, they were unsuccessful. The draft of the gang database policy was posted on the CPD’s website on November 7.
Residents have until December 7 to voice their concerns on the CEIS policy. The new draft is similar to the policy draft published in November 2021. However, that draft wasn’t finalized.
Someone from Inspector General Deborah Witzburg’s office plans on attending Monday’s meeting. However, CPD Superintendent David Brown had not responded to the commission’s invitation, stated Driver.
Chicagoans have “a right to be informed,” stated Driver. “The city and the police department got it wrong the first time and multiple times since. We cannot afford to get it wrong again.”
CPD spokesperson, Tom Ahern, assured that department leaders have conducted “extensive vetting of previously collected gang data to ensure all information being inputted into the CEIS is accurate, according to the new, more robust set of criteria.” Ahern didn’t rule out further 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.
Once the policy is in place, individuals can go to one of five district CPD stations, police headquarters, or the Chicago city clerk’s office to see if they’ve been added to the database. Parents/Guardians of teenagers included in the CEIS database could appeal on the youth’s behalf.
After five years those who no longer qualify to be on the database will be removed, according to the policy.
The original 18 gang databases were audited by former Inspector General Joseph Ferguson in April 2019. Ferguson determined that the city’s lists were a “deeply flawed collection of gang data, with poor quality controls and inadequate protections for procedural rights.”
Of the 134,242 Chicagoans listed as gang members by the CPD, 95% were Black or Latino. The people were added to the lists after they admitted gang affiliation, used or wore gang tattoos, emblems, hand signals, or other symbols. Some were identified by an officer “with special intelligence” on gangs.
After Ferguson’s findings were made public, former Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson immediately agreed to replace the city’s gang databases.
The new system has been delayed due to
- Lightfoot taking office and requesting a new revision;
- A class action lawsuit that demanded changes to the way CPD used the database.
- Officials thoroughly scrutinize details to ensure they get it right.
People can register for the virtual meeting being held on Nov. 28, 2022, at 6:30 p.m. (CT) by clicking this link.
By Sheena Robertson
WTTW: More Than 3 Years After Watchdog Warned Chicago Police Gang Databases Were ‘Deeply Flawed,’ New System Poised to Launch Despite Objections
Chicago Police Department: Criminal Enterprise Information System Policy Draft
Top and Featured Image Courtesy of Grant Slater‘s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of SHYCITYNikon‘s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License