Portland won’t use term ‘gang members’ anymore because it could have ‘negative impact’ on minorities’ psyche | American Military News

Portland won’t use term ‘gang members’ anymore because it could have ‘negative impact’ on minorities’ psyche

Portland will no longer designate people as “gang members.”

Portland won’t use term ‘gang members’ anymore because it could have ‘negative impact’ on minorities’ psyche Featured (Flikr/torbakhopper)

Portland, Oregon, authorities are ending their 20-year-old practice of designating people as “gang members” in a database, as a result of pressure from the community that it will negatively impact minorities, The Oregonian reported.

For several years, community activists have been trying to get rid of the gang database.

The Portland Police Bureau (PPB) said in a statement:

As times have changed, the Police Bureau in partnership with community members have realized being labeled a “gang member” can have a negative impact on the person who may be making attempts to overcome the life challenges they face. Today, new processes and technologies allow police to investigate crimes in a manner that our community supports and that will not have the unintended consequences of potentially harming those who may need services and help the most.

Acting Tactical Operations Capt. Andy Shearer said that having a gang designation creates a barrier for those who have turned their backs on their gangs and are seeking jobs.

“Gang violence isn’t going to go away. There are still crimes attributed to known gang sets. There are still criminal gang members. That doesn’t go away because we don’t have a gang designation,” said Capt. Mike Krantz, according to The Oregonian. “We’re not pretending gang violence doesn’t exist. We’re just taking this one thing away.”

According to data obtained by the Oregonian, out of the 359 “criminal gang affiliates” in the police’s database that were flagged this summer, 81 percent were from an ethnic or racial minority.

On October 15, police will send out a letter to every person listed in the gang database saying that they will be getting rid of all documents that designate that person as such.

Mayor Ted Wheeler applauded the decision and said it was “the right thing to do.”

“Police were able to add someone to the list if the person self-identified as a member of a gang, participated in a gang initiation ritual, committed a gang-related crime or displayed two or more observable signs of gang membership,” The Oregonian reported.

More than 100 individuals are placed onto the list each year, the paper reported.

The Oregonian reported that some police officers have expressed concerns over the policy change, believing that it could negatively impact their ability to stop gang violence.

This is the full statement released by the PPB:

On Friday, September 8, 2017, during the Community Peace Collaborative (CPC) meeting, the Portland Police Bureau announced it will stop documenting people as gang members beginning on October 15, 2017.

The Gang Designation Policy was implemented more than 20 years ago when gun and gang violence rates had escalated dramatically in the city. It was developed to be an investigative tool to help police decrease escalating gun violence.

As times have changed, the Police Bureau in partnership with community members have realized being labeled a “gang member” can have a negative impact on the person who may be making attempts to overcome the life challenges they face. Today, new processes and technologies allow police to investigate crimes in a manner that our community supports and that will not have the unintended consequences of potentially harming those who may need services and help the most.

The policy will be rescinded on October 15th, and the names of approximately 300 people who are currently designated on the list will be purged from the database. A directive regarding referrals to services for those who may be involved in gangs of violent gang related behaviors is currently being developed.

People from our community who engage in violent crime and those who do so on behalf of a criminal organization will continue to be a focus of enforcement efforts of the Police Bureau. While enforcement and adjudication is an important component of stopping violence, providing meaningful services, community outreach, and relationship building is equally important. PPB strives to engage in each of those every single day in partnership with those such as the Office of Youth Violence Prevention (OYVP), the Multnomah County District Attorney’s office, the US Attorney’s office, Multnomah County Parole and Probation, the Oregon Youth Authority and many others.