By Alice Speri
The New York Police Department has quietly expanded its gang database under Mayor Bill de Blasio, targeting tens of thousands of young people of color for increased surveillance even in the absence of criminal conduct.
New Yorkers have been added to the NYPD gang database under de Blasio at a rate of 342 people per month, nearly three times the rate of the prior decade. That’s despite both historically low crime levels and the fact that gang-motivated crime makes up less than 1 percent of all reported crime in New York City.
New details about who the NYPD includes in the vast database were revealed in response to a public records request by CUNY School of Law professor Babe Howell, who shared the information with The Intercept. The data reveals that as of February 2018, there were 42,334 people in the database — a 70 percent increase since de Blasio took office in January 2014. Ninety-nine percent of those added over that four-year period were not white. The NYPD also maintains a database of “inactive” gang members that includes 2,706 people.
The NYPD differentiates between crime committed to advance the interests of a gang — about 0.1 percent of all reported crime in the city between 2013 and 2017, according to Howell’s analysis — and crime committed by alleged gang members but not on behalf of gangs. According to the NYPD statistics, the latter category of crime doubled between 2013 and mid-2017, but still accounts for only 1.7 percent of all reported crime.
But the results of a separate Freedom of Information Law request suggest that the NYPD’s definition of what constitutes a gang is broad, vague, and disconnected from evidence of criminal activity.
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Source: The Intercept_