State Senator Jacqueline Collins joined State Senator Patricia Van Pelt, State Senator Mattie Hunter and State Representative LaShawn K. Ford today to speak about the need to reform the Chicago Police Department’s gang member database in light of recent reports by ProPublica and the Chicago Tribune highlighting major concerns in how the data set is built, maintained and used. Senator Van Pelt is sponsoring Senate Bill 275 to address these issues. Senator Collins is chief co-sponsor. The following were her remarks to members of the press in Springfield earlier today.

I am Senator Jacqueline Collins, and I stand in support of Senator Van Pelt’s bill today because it addresses the failings of what should be an important tool for keeping our neighborhoods safe. The data set we’re discussing today should be used to help police investigate gang activity and to inform them of possible associations and affiliations. It could be a powerful tool to study gang-related violence. Yet, its use has raised major concerns over how it is built and how it is being used.

We have investigative reporters to thank for recent revelations that have found the data available to be out of date and raised troubling questions about the methods police use to add an individual to the list. Their reports reveal that there are alleged gang members in this database who have celebrated their one hundred and eighteenth birthday, or who are guilty of nothing more than being of a certain race and living in a certain neighborhood. Charges against someone with a name in the database are more severe, and there is currently no process to petition for the removal of one’s name.

We need only look to California – another state with significant gang activity – to see a system which is audited more closely and which informs individuals when their names have been added and allows them the chance to appeal. That is how a system crafted under our Constitution should look. We want to ensure police have the tools they need to fight crime. But a poorly-kept database with little oversight is a blunt and ineffective tool that opens the door for civil rights abuses. We must pass this legislation and make this process worthy of our justice system.

Contact Info

Chicago Office:
1155 W. 79th St.
Chicago, IL 60620
(773) 224-2830

Springfield Office:
M114 Capitol
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-1607

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