Recent documents from the Metropolitan Police Department in D.C. (MPD) and the Boston Police Department (BPD) show that Regional Intelligence Centers (RIC) are encouraging police officers to put children and adults in secret gang databases.
Last month an article in The Intercept showed that police gang databases are riddled with civil rights violations and errors. It revealed how police used civilian analysts to create flawed RIC (Fusion Center) gang member databases.
“A spreadsheet of the MPD database shared internally the next month included a supposed gang member who was less than 1 year old, as well as 2, 3, 5, and 6-year-olds. The 2,575 names in the spreadsheet also included children as young as 14.”
As the video explains, RICs are entering shooting victims names into their gang databases. Law enforcement uses “hazy criteria” to justify entering the 1 to 14 year-olds names.
“Documents reviewed by The Intercept, show how the MPD identifies supposed gang members by using hazy criteria typical of other gang databases in the United States and how the department pushes officers to frequently add names to the database. The emails also reveal that the MPD shares information from the database — including full spreadsheets of its contents — with outside agencies and larger regional gang databases and that the department uses it to inform its aggressive policing initiatives.”
For the past eleven years, all the Metropolitan police officers had to do to justify entering juvenile names into their gang database was to use the term “reasonable suspicion.”
“Officers can add a gang member if they have a reasonable suspicion that the person checks two of seven boxes, including associating with validated gang members, being identified as a gang member by an unproven informant, and having been arrested in a gang area for an offense that is part of the gang’s criminal enterprise. Officers can forgo the two-criteria requirement if someone credibly admits to being in a gang — a workaround other departments have been shown to falsify or abuse — or if a reliable informant pegs them as a gang member.”
This is almost the same gang database system that the BPD’s Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC) uses.
A BPD “Gang Assessment Database” document released to the public is nearly an exact duplicate of the MPD’s gang database.
BRICs “Point-Based Verification System” allows police officers to put suspicious people in their gang database simply because they are wearing the wrong color clothing or are frequenting a specific area. (Sec. 4.1)
It only takes 10 points to place person in BRICs gang database.
“The BRIC will analyze the validity of the supporting documentation for each individual criteria used to verify an associate and maintain the discretion to decline to use the information towards any criterion. The BRIC will maintain the discretion to decline to enter individuals into the database who meet the 10 point criteria but are determined to not be engaged in gang-related criminal activity.”
The following list of items or activities may result in an individual’s verification for entry into the Gang Assessment Database (Sec.5):
- Contact with Known Gang Associate (FIO) (2 points per interaction) FIOs shall not be used as the sole verification criteria for any individual.
- Court and Investigative Documents (9 points)
- Documented Association (Police Incident Report) (4 points per interaction)
- Group Related Photograph (2 points) Information Developed During Investigation and/or Surveillance (5 points)
- Information from Anonymous Informant or Tipster (1 point)
- Information from Reliable, Confidential Informant (5 points)
- Known Group Tattoo or Marking (8 points)
- Membership Documents (9 points)
- Named in Documents as a Associate / Member(8 points)
- Participation in Publications (8 points)
- Possession of Documents (8 points if not in custody or incarcerated; 3 points if in custody or incarcerated)
- Possession of Gang Publications (2 points)
- Prior Validation by a Law Enforcement Agency (9 points) The Law Enforcement Agencies validation process must be at least as rigorous as that used by the Boston Police Department.
- Published News Accounts (1 point)
- Self Admission (8 points)
- Use and or Possession of Group Paraphernalia or Identifiers (4 points)
- Victim/Target Affiliated with Associate of Rival Group (8 points if not in custody or incarcerated; 3 points if in custody or incarcerated)
All it takes to put a person in the gang database is for an RIC analyst or the Commander, or the Commander of the Youth Violence Strike Force or their designees to sign off on it.
“Authorized Users will be able to submit an individual for consideration for admission into the Gang Assessment Database. All submissions for verification shall include documentation to support the individual’s entry into the Gang Assessment Database using the Point-Based Verification System. Submissions can be made to the Commander of the BRIC or his/her designee or the Commander of the Youth Violence Strike Force or his/her designee. All submissions for verification will be manually reviewed by a BRIC analyst and supervisor to determine compliance with this rule prior to entry into the database.”
In Springfield, Massachusetts the school committee allows their Real Time Crime Center to monitor students live. Across the country, RICs use private security officers, hotel workers, mall employees, teachers, trash collectors, ministers, priests, rabbi’s and even counselors to secretly report people to fusion centers. Maine’s fusion center secretly collects information on political activists, anti-government groups, gun owners and alleged domestic extremists.
Fusion centers are also giving our homes color-coded risk assessments based on food deliveries.
“The database goes through all public information for the call’s location — from arrest records to pizza deliveries — and gives the address a rating. Green means minimal threat, yellow a possible threat and red a major threat. This is all done in a few seconds.”
The futility of fusion center gang databases can best be explained by Boston Police spokesperson Sgt. Det. John Boyle who said in the video, “the majority of firearms violence in Boston is driven by gang dynamics, with a small number of people causing a disproportionate amount of violent episodes.”
If only a few people are responsible for gun violence, why do we have secret fusion center gang databases? If only a few thousand people stormed the White House why do we have a secret, RIC “red book” and “red flag” system for domestic terrorists?
Why do we have secret No-Fly lists when only a few people drove planes into the World Trade Center? Why are there 8,000 innocent Americans on a secret terror watch list? Why does the FBI and DHS want Americans to report family members suspected of extremism? And finally, why does the White House want the NCTC to target people’s belief’s and ideologies?
Unless we demand a change, all of these examples of federal overreach; gang databases, terrorist watchlisting are only going to get worse.