State senate bill would ban data on Minnesota gangs; Metro Gang Strike Force blowback
A Minnesota Senate panel has voted to ban police databases of alleged gang members.
The Judiciary Committee's decision to move the proposal forward comes in the wake of disbanded Metro Gang Strike Force, which operated less like a crime-fighting unit and more like a gang itself.
Sen. Mee Moua, DFL-St. Paul , who authored the amendment, says the alteration would ban "GangNet-type" databases, a reference to the Ramsey County's collection of e-dossiers, which was truncated earlier this year amid civil liberty concerns.
Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher, no stranger to controversy himself, is stridently opposed to the proposal. In a letter he sent a letter to the Judiciary Committee, he had this to say:
"If this proposal becomes law it will dismantle 20 years of progress in investigating and prosecuting gang members in Minnesota. Officer safety will be jeopardized because officers will not have access to information regarding gang history. Investigations will be slowed because officers will not be able to identify the combatants and their motives without complete information regarding their gang association. And finally, the prosecution of gang motivated offenses will be curtailed.''
He went on to write that, "dismantling the computer systems that track these criminal gang members would send us back to the pre-computer 'stone ages' of law enforcement."
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