On October 15th, police officers in Portland, Oregon will no longer have the means to tag known gang members with an official “gang designation”. The Portland Police Department has decided to stop identifying gang members and purge the gang member database it has developed over the last 20 years. According to The Oregonian, before this decision to change policy was made, “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 ability to track gang designations is obviously beneficial to police. Basic common sense tells us there are huge benefits in knowing more about a suspected perpetrator. Known gang affiliations help police officers know where to look for suspects, narrow lists of possible accomplices, and can help officers ask the right people the right questions.