Gang Crime Investigations: Lack of accountability and transparency reduced the community's trust in police

A screenshot of the Gang Enforcement Team's list of active gang members and associations (personally identifying information has been redacted)
The Police Bureau was still collecting information about people’s gang associations, auditors found. Such practices raised concerns and potential legal questions.

The Police Bureau’s Gang Enforcement Team collected and shared information about people’s gang associations. These practices suffered from lack of accountability and caused concerns to some community members.

For one practice, designating some people as criminal gang affiliates, the Police Bureau could not show that it complied with its own policy, despite some community concerns about this information collection. The Bureau acknowledged the community’s mistrust by discontinuing this practice in October 2017. Police managers said they would no longer put gang labels on people.

A second practice, making a list of most active gang members and associates, was still in use at the conclusion of our audit. For this practice, the Police Bureau had no policy and few safeguards, despite potential public concerns and legal questions. The Bureau did not seek public input on this practice, even though community concerns persisted about the gang designation.

If the Police Bureau continues the most active list or other practices of collecting information on people’s gang relationships, we recommend it should adopt a policy and put safeguards in place to protect people’s rights and the accuracy of the information. It should also address potential legal questions.

The Gang Enforcement Team also investigates shooting crimes. The team did not track results of this work by measuring a case clearance rate. We recommend the Police Bureau use the clearance rate to report on results of the team’s investigations. The team should also make case management improvements to balance detectives’ work and track the timeliness and status of cases.

The focus of this report is on the team’s investigative function. We assess the team’s patrol function in a separate report.


Minh Dan Vuong

Performance Auditor II

Elizabeth Pape

Performance Auditor II

Casey Bieberich

Investigator | Independent Police Review