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A coalition of elected officials is asking the NYPD watchdog to investigate how the department determines who gets relegated to its controversial gang database.
In a letter sent Friday to the NYPD’s Inspector General Philip Eure, written by Assemblyman Dan Quart (D-Manhattan) and signed by 21 other elected officials, the pols argue that key questions remain unanswered about the database, including how police use social media to investigate gang members, and how they work to differentiate “between actual criminal involvement and youthful boasting and symbolic posturing," the Daily News has learned.
“I think the database is wrong,” Quart, who is running for Manhattan District Attorney, told The News. “I think it’s unconstitutional. I think it’s racial profiling in one of the worst ways. My objection is to its existence... but at a minimum I want to fight for transparency and disclosure.”
Controversy over the database has dogged the NYPD the past few years, with police accused of unfairly targeting minorities and putting too many young people into the database who don’t deserve to there. Concerns have also been raised about how the information is shared, particularly with prosecutors, though police have said no prosecutor has access to the database.
In June, a police official at a City Council hearing said the database — called the Criminal Group Database by the NYPD — had more than 18,000 names, 98% of which were either black or Latino. The official denied the department uses racial profiling.
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