The Baby Gang Members

If there is one challenge that seems to beyond the mortal powers of nearly every organisation it is that to keep a clean and up to date database of what ever it is that they need to keep a clean and up to date database of.

We were reminded of that this week when we read a California State Auditor report into what is known as CalGang.

As the report notes:

CalGang is a shared criminal intelligence system that law enforcement agencies (user agencies) throughout the State use voluntarily. User agencies enter information into CalGang on suspected gang members, including their names, associated gangs, and the information that led law enforcement officers to suspect they were gang members.

Done well

User agencies have noted that CalGang’s benefits include directing them to information about gang members’ interactions with law enforcement officers throughout the State and facilitating cross-agency collaboration when investigating and prosecuting gang-related crimes.

However

CalGang’s weak leadership structure has been ineffective at ensuring that the information the user agencies enter is accurate and appropriate, thus lessening CalGang’s effectiveness as a tool for fighting gang-related crimes.

Which has led to

the inaccurate data within CalGang may violate the privacy rights of individuals whose information appears in CalGang records but who do not actually meet the criteria for inclusion in the system.

The report noted:

In addition to the errors we found in the 100 records we reviewed, our use of an electronic analysis of all CalGang records uncovered a number of problems that highlight the importance of both supervisory and ongoing reviews of CalGang information.

And this is the winner already in 2016 for the best quote in a report

For example, we found 42 individuals in CalGang who were supposedly younger than one year of age at the time of entry—28 of whom were entered for “admitting to being gang members.” 

This is an excellent report once one strips away the salacious aspects of its content.  

The recommendation that could be applied to all is best summed up:

Because of its potential to enhance public safety, CalGang needs an oversight structure that better ensures that the information entered into it is reliable and that its users adhere to requirements that protect individuals’ rights.

The same could be said for all databases!

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