CPD’s New Gang Database Proposal

The Chicago Police Department has published a draft of its new Criminal Enterprise Information System otherwise known as the Chicago Gang Database, for public comment. Community members have until Wednesday, December 7th to make public comments rejecting this and any other gang database. To make public comments, go here

Key Factors for Public Comments:

  • This new gang database maintains key components of the old system. People whose names are already in the database will be transferred to the new database, even though there is sufficient evidence provided by the Office of Inspector General to demonstrate that the way in which CPD gathered information was and continues to be racist, faulty, disorganized and incomplete. Keeping the names that have been collected by 18 separate forms, records, and systems of records that often contradict themselves would only further delegitimize CPD’s system.

Further Data

  • 90 gang arrest cards have dates prior to 1901, making those individuals 117 years old. 80 GAC’s are listed as having ages of 0.
  • 15,174 individuals have no specific gang designation, despite being listed as gang members.
  • 15,648 individuals were designated as gang members without a reason provided
  • Around 28,000-68,000 were minors. More than 7,700 individuals who were in the database as of 2018 had been added to the database before they turned 18.
  • With this new gang database, CPD is reinforcing a counter-terrorism narrative, leaning into the Illinois Streetgang Terrorism Prevention Act as a way of justifying the surveillance of community members. This is in-line with Mayor Lori Lightfoots recent introduction of the “Victims Justice Ordinance” (formerly called Chicago Streetgang Terrorism Ordinance), which argues that gang members are terrorizing Chicagoans. Yet there is NO evidence to support this argument! Since the majority of those considered “gang members” by CPD are Black and brown, this narrative of terrorism further perpetuates white supremacist and xenophobic sentiments to justify racism.

Further Data

  • 95% of those in the Gang Database are Black and brown, with little-to-no substantial proof showing that people categorized as gang-members are in fact gang-affiliated.
  • According to recently released CPD data, fewer than 3 in 10 shootings in the past decade have been gang-related.
  • A large part of admission into the new database relies on “voluntary admissions,” which we know is harmful to community members due to CPD’s history of using violence to coerce admission. The Department of Justice found that CPD engages in violent force that violates an individuals fourth amendment. This makes people of color especially susceptible to coercion-to-consent by the police. There have been many instances that have shown CPD coerced a confession from an individual in order to acquire a conviction. Therefore this form of data entry is unacceptable.

Further Data

  • Investigation of the Chicago Police Department by the Department of Justice in 2017 found that CPD engages in “a pattern or practice of unreasonable force in violation of the Fourth Amendment”
  • The National Registry of Exonerations logged that 37% of wrongful convictions came from Illinois. Illinois has a false confession rate of more than three times higher than the national average.
  • Of the 250 recorded cases of false confession in the US, 28% come from Illinois, and nearly 1 in 4 from Cook County. These statistics have made Chicago be known as the False Confession Capital.
  • Like many other facets of CPD, this new gang database system will rely on technology in order to gather information. This includes video recordings, body cameras, in-car video system recording, other electronically recorded interviews, all electronic communications, and overhear devices. With such unspecified and broad forms of collecting information, CPD may include tools like social media monitoring and ShotSpotters to collect information, further expanding surveillance capitalism. This puts private interactions in danger of surveillance and criminalization. CPD should never rely on social media to accurately determine criminality.

Further Data

  • CPD currently uses social media to monitor “gang and gun violence,” using companies like Dunami and Geofeedia to comb through vast amounts of data from social media platforms like facebook, twitter and instagram to plot them on a map and look for trends. Between 2014 and 2018, CPD was shown to have spent more than $1.25 million on Dunami (a social media surveillance software).
  • CPD also works with Chicago Public Schools to implement social media monitoring in at least 24 schools, most of them located in the South and West sides.
  • Shotspotter, a surveillance system that uses microphones to detect gunfire typically uses nose and location identification to alert police of alleged gun violence. Multiple analyses have shown that more than 90% of ShotSpotters alerts lead to police finding no evidence of gunfire. The majority of ShotSpotter dispatches are in the West and South side.
  • CPD is also using symbols, tattoos, emblems and markings to determine gang membership, still coordinating with external federal, state and local agencies and is allowing identification made by a third party individual. This opens up the possibility for racial profiling and collaboration with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, and further perpetuates white supremacy.


  • While people can file a request on their status within the new gang database system, the process is lengthy and complicated, and requires forms of state identification or otherwise reliable identification. 


  • People who are in the system can only be removed from it after 5 years of any interaction with police and only after completing any parole requirements. Any new interaction can be used to keep you in the database. No convictions are needed.