Secretive California Gang Database Included 42 Babies

A Los Angeles police officer watches children arriving at the Main Street Elementary School. (AP Photo)

Los Angeles police officer Sgt. Frank Preciado with officer Wendy Reyes, right, watch children arriving at the Main Street Elementary School after winter break on Monday Jan. 7,2013 in Los Angeles.

An explosive state audit of a secretive California gang database used by law enforcement showed 42 profiles were for 1-year-old children, half of whom apparently confessed to being in gangs. The database, paid for by taxpayers, is rife with other errors.

Of those profiles for 1-year-old children, 28 were entered for “admitting to being gang members,” according to State Auditor Elaine Howle in a statement issued with the report The CalGang Criminal Intelligence System on Friday.

CalGang is a shared criminal intelligence system that law enforcement agencies throughout the state used voluntarily. It is where they entered the names of suspected gang members, associated gangs, and any information that led law enforcement to suspect they were gang members.

Auditors found the database’s weak leadership structure had “been ineffective at ensuring that the information…[was] accurate and appropriate,” which may invade a person’s privacy rights.
The database, including more than 150,000 suspected gang members and affiliates, was maintained by law enforcement. The audit found there was almost no public transparency or scrutiny of the work.

A review of a 100 people placed in the database by four police agencies found 13 were “inappropriately included.” Auditors found more than 600 people still listed even thought their files had been purged.

Howle recommended the database be overhauled with a new oversight structure, administered by the state Department of Justice.

The audit was spurred by questions brought by San Diego lawmaker, Democratic Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, after her son was once threatened by law enforcement he would be added to the gang database during a traffic stop.

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