Portland, OR, police next month will end their more than 20-year-old practice of designating people as gang members or gang associates in response to strong community concerns about the labels that have disproportionately affected minorities, reports the Oregonian.
The Police Bureau recognizes that the gang designations have led to "unintended consequences'' and served as lifelong barriers for those who have shunned the gang lifestyle and tried to get jobs, said Acting Tactical Operations Capt. Andy Shearer.
Leaders from Black Male Achievement, former police Assistant Chief Kevin Modica, and others have lobbied to end the designations.
"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,'' said Capt. Mike Krantz, who helped spearhead the change. "We're not pretending gang violence doesn't exist. We're just taking this one thing away.''
Krantz said Friday that the Police Bureau has considered ending gang designations for two years as gang enforcement officers met with parole and probation officers, community members, and others to figure out the details. They recently got the approval of former Chief Mike Marshman and current Interim Chief Chris Uehara.
The new policy will take effect Oct. 15.