Portland police will no longer classify people as gang members

Police in Portland, Ore., announced Friday that they will no longer classify people as gang members, ending a 20-year practice criticized for disproportionately affecting minorities. Photo by torbakhopper/Flickr

Sept. 11 (UPI) — Police in Portland, Ore., announced Friday that they will no longer designate people as gang members, ending a 20-year practice that has been criticized for disproportionately affecting minorities.

The Police Bureau said gang designations have led to “unintended consequences” and hindered people who have tried to turn their life around and get jobs, reported the Oregonian.

“It’s just another barrier for the re-entry components they have to deal with,” said Robert Richardson, a former pastor who works with young people associated with gangs, reported KPTV.

Capt. Mike Krantz, a proponent of ending the gang designation policy, said the move is not intended to ignore gang activity.

“Gang violence isn’t going to go away. There are still crimes attributed to known gang sets. There are still criminal gang members. That doesn’t go away because we don’t have a gang designation,” Krantz said. “We’re not pretending gang violence doesn’t exist. We’re just taking this one thing away.”

The policy will go into effect on Oct. 15. About 300 people will have their names removed from the gang designation database.

“It will make a big difference with them being able to put their feet on the ground and move forward with their lives,” Richardson said.

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