ACLU calls for CPD moratorium on using, adding, and sharing any gang designations

Citing major flaws in the approach, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Illinois today publicly rejected the Chicago Police Department’s current proposal to address critical problems in the “gang database.”  In a detailed letter sent to CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson and incoming Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the ACLU of Illinois urged CPD to declare a moratorium on all gang databases until there can be a public evaluation of whether such a database should even exist.

“The proposed Criminal Enterprise Database is an insufficient and premature solution to CPD’s broken gang database system. CPD, with the involvement of community stakeholders, must first conduct a full accounting of gang designations and their uses. It should then seek the community’s input to determine whether a gang database should exist, and if so, the necessary safeguards to be enacted. Until then, the ACLU calls for a moratorium on the existing and proposed gang databases,” wrote Rachel Murphy, Staff Attorney, ACLU of Illinois.
In a critical report issued last month, the Public Safety Section of the Office of Inspector General found few controls on how people end up on the “gang database” and no processes for removal, meaning that inaccurate or outdated information on a person’s gang membership remains in the system for years. Gang designations can lead to a number of collateral consequences, including increased law enforcement surveillance, higher bonds, denial of bail, mandatory minimum sentences, and conditions of probation and parole that prohibit contact with other individuals designated as gang members.
In its letter, the ACLU of Illinois pointed to numerous concerns from the OIG report that were dismissed or inadequately addressed by the Chicago Police Department, including continued sharing of information with external agencies, such as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Sharing gang information with ICE can contribute to the separation of families and further a culture of fear and distrust of law enforcement in immigrant communities.
“These gang designations are hurting people now. CPD must immediately stop using and sharing information from this broken system,” continued Murphy.
To read the letter, please click here.