Police Abuse

California Attorney General Defends Gang Database Despite Abuses by LAPD

Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced action against the department.

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More than a dozen officers of the Los Angeles Police Department have been caught boosting their division's success rate by deliberately adding innocent civilians, including young children, to CalGang, a statewide database that tracks gang members. Now the California attorney general has decided to limit the damage, but not to question the database itself.

In a letter sent Monday to the Los Angeles Police Department, Attorney General Xavier Becerra promised an independent audit of the department's CalGang entries. The entries will have to be corroborated by other evidence, such as body camera footage, and L.A. officers will have to be retrained on how to use the system. Also, if someone in Los Angeles asks to be removed from the database but is denied, a higher-ranking police officer will be required to review the decision.

In a press conference yesterday, Becerra acknowledged that those added falsely to the database could be subjected to extra police scrutiny. But he also repeatedly claimed that CalGang is a good policing tool that keeps the community safe.

A state audit of the system in 2016 painted a different picture: In addition to a mess of privacy and civil liberties problems, it found a host of inaccurate entries, failures to follow basic rules, and transparency problems. Some abuses are likely linked to racial bias, as with the case of a black man who works as a gang intervention worker who learned he had been added to the database of gang members. (NBC News details his story here.)

It's unclear how many false records have been added to CalGang, and the number will likely remain unknown until an audit is conducted.

Watch the full press conference here.

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  1. …Becerra acknowledged that those added falsely to the database could be subjected to extra police scrutiny. But he also repeatedly claimed that CalGang is a good policing tool that keeps the community safe.

    Becerra’s ratio: It is better that ten innocent children get rousted than one guilty man goes unmolested.

  2. Years of experience with the unconstitutional Sex Offender database and Californians allowed this database?

    Commifornians are getting what they voted for good and hard!

  3. officers of the Los Angeles Police Department have been caught boosting their division’s success rate by deliberately adding innocent civilians, including young children, to CalGang, a statewide database that tracks gang members.

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  4. In theory having a database of known gang members/criminals that haven’t been prosecuted for things yet is NOT a bad idea. It could help in figuring out who murdered somebody by giving cops a place to start with interviews etc…

    The only problem is with the quality of info going in, and potentially if there is misuse even of legit info by harassing to an excessive extent.

    But saying the database in general is a bad idea is like saying the FBI should have never kept a list of suspected mafia members, or the CIA shouldn’t have a list of suspected terrorists… Which is clearly retarded.

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    2. I don’t disagree with you. But, it all depends on what the following means in practice:
      Becerra acknowledged that those added falsely to the database could be subjected to extra police scrutiny
      If someone is put on the list, does that mean that police get to pull them over when they run their license plate just because they are on the list? If someone is on the list, and a cop knows it, do they get to “detain” you while they talk to you?

      1. Yeah, and that’s my whole point. Stuff like that shouldn’t happen, but cops have ALWAYS kept lists of people known to be involved in shady shit. ALWAYS. I bet cops in ancient Rome had a set of the “usual suspects” when some shit went down.

        This is just that with a computer database. You don’t want abuse, but preventing a modern computerized way of keeping track of the same info cops have always used is silly.

    3. In theory, giving police unlimited powers to obtain evidence and compel testimony is NOT a bad ides. I could help in figuring out who murdered somebody by giving cops full access to any place that a criminal might hide evidence.

      The only problem is with the quality of the police.

      Look vek, any solution that requires government agents to be fine, upstanding, honest, people is going to fall right on its face.

      1. CIA shouldn’t have a list of suspected terrorists… Which is clearly retarded.

        Obviously they need that – how else are they going to know which weddings to bomb?

      2. Dude, I’m with ya. There are lots of dumb/bad cops.

        But you can’t literally forbid the police from having a list of gang members and associates. Like I said above I’m sure cops were doing this in ancient Rome. That it was on paper or papyrus scrolls vs in a spreadsheet makes little difference.

        The question is what can do they do with it? Can you punish cops who abuse it? Stuff like that.

        I used to be a retarded knee jerk anti law enforcement guy myself… One of the cops treated me like a dick when I got arrested at a house party in high school! Then I grew up. We need police, but we also need to be able to keep them accountable, and crucify them when they behave badly. I’m not in favor of getting rid of warrants, or having face scanners everywhere or anything…

        But a simple list of known gang associates isn’t too outlandish. One must simply accept that the world isn’t perfect and there will be people on it that don’t belong, and we’ll also miss people that do. We need good mechanisms in there for protecting people and dealing with issues, but banning cops from doing something they did in ancient Rome isn’t gonna work.

        1. Exactly right. Fact is that every cop who has ever run a beat has a running list of the troublemakers in his neighborhood too, and they share this with fellow officers. If people want officers to protect the public, then they have to know where the danger points are. When abuses happen, it’s never about the information. It’s about the person abusing it whether it’s private knowledge, on piece of paper, or in a database.

          Putting into a database really doesn’t change anything. In fact it makes that list running through the officers’ head open for public inspection, which is probably a good thing.

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