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Critics Question Minnesota Database Of Gang Associates

December 2, 2009 07:14:20 am

Should there be a law enforcement database in Minnesota with nearly 14,000 names of people who may have hung out with gang members or been photographed with them but aren't confirmed gangsters themselves? If someone is misidentified as a gang member, how can that person get removed from the list? Should there be concern if gang databases disproportionately include people of color? The St. Paul Pioneer Press says a new report raises these concerns and more about two law enforcement databases: the Minnesota Gang Pointer File and GangNet. The report is from The University of St. Thomas School of Law's Community Justice Project, in collaboration with the St. Paul NAACP.

The report calls for examining whether GangNet should be dismantled. That database, with about 16,500 names, is maintained by the Ramsey County sheriff's office and used by officers across the state. Some of the report's other recommendations are worth considering, said Sheriff Bob Fletcher, but he said GangNet should remain in existence. "GangNet is a very valuable tool for law enforcement," he said. "The entire system is incident based, so it's completely factual and reliable in its content."

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