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Portland Police To Stop Labeling People As 'Gang Members'

Gang grafitti under Portland Avenue Bridge.

Gang grafitti under Portland Avenue Bridge.

Marks Postcards From Beloit/Flickr

The Portland Police Bureau announced Friday it will stop labeling people as gang members following concern the label disproportionately affects people of color.

On Oct. 15, the bureau will send out letters to the 300 people on its gang designation list, promising to purge all designation documents.

Sgt. Chris Burley said gang violence isn’t going away, but the bureau recognizes the designation is a barrier for those who’ve turned their backs on gangs and tried to find work.

“With new scientific tools that we have today, we can continue to decrease gun violence without the use of a gang designation policy,” he said.

For example, Burley said, the Oregon State Police Crime Lab now has a much quicker and more efficient system for matching guns with bullet casings.

That means investigators can quickly match crimes using evidence rather than gang affiliation.

A review last year showed Portland police labeled people criminal gang affiliates more than 100 times, without conviction or arrest.

Portland Police Oregon

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