Portland Police to stop documenting people as 'gang members', will purge names from system

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The Portland Police Bureau announced Friday that it will stop documenting people as gang members beginning on October 15.

The Gang Designation Policy was implemented more than 20 years ago when gun and gang violence rates had escalated dramatically in the city, according to a news release from Public Information Officer Sgt. Chris Burley.

Burley says that as times have changed, the Portland Police Bureau in partnership with community members has realized that being labeled a "gang member" can have a "negative impact on the person who may be making attempts to overcome the life challenges they face."

New processes and technologies will allow police to investigate crimes in a manner that the "community supports and that will not have the unintended consequences of potentially harming those who may need services and help the most," reads the release.

The Gang Designation Policy will be rescinded on October 15, and the names of approximately 300 people who are currently on the list will be purged from the Bureau's database.

Burley says a directive regarding referrals to services for those who may be involved in violent gang-related behavior is being developed. He also says that stopping people who engage in violent crime and those who do so on behalf of a criminal organization will continue to be a focus of the Police Bureau.

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