Gang Enforcement Patrol: The Police Bureau must show that traffic stops are effective

A photograph of Gang Enforcement officers making a traffic stop in March 2017. Two officers stand next to the driver and passenger sides of a blue car.
Auditors found racial disparities: 59 percent of the Gang Enforcement Team’s traffic stops affected African Americans. Community members told auditors their concerns about such stops.

The Police Bureau’s Gang Enforcement Team carried out traffic stops that disproportionately affected African American Portlanders. Community members expressed concerns that the stops were too broad and were not limited to criminal gang suspects.

We found that the Police Bureau cannot demonstrate that these stops were effective. This was because the Bureau did not require officers to collect certain information and also did not analyze available data:

  • Gang Enforcement officers did not record the reasons why they made stops
  • The team did not analyze the results of stops, such as how many stops led to gun seizures or arrests. Officers did not record how many stops led to contacts with people who were involved in gangs

Without this data, the Gang Enforcement Team cannot analyze or ex-plain the overrepresentation of African Americans in its stops. The team also cannot show the effectiveness of its practices.

We recommend the Police Bureau document and analyze the reasons for stops and the results, and report this information to the public to improve community trust.

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


Minh Dan Vuong

Performance Auditor II

Elizabeth Pape

Performance Auditor II

Casey Bieberich

Investigator | Independent Police Review