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Think Out Loud

Naming Names

Pete Springer/OPB

It’s pretty unusual for police departments to name specific gang affiliations when they release details about gang-related acts of violence. Some law enforcement insiders say that naming a gang can glorify its members or instigate additional violence from rival gangs, like a scorecard or badge of honor.

A report was distributed earlier this month at Portland’s Gang Violence Task Force. The report, released at the request of the mayor’s office, contained details about suspected gang-related incidents, including alleged gang affiliations. Among those in attendance at the public meeting were members of the media. The report went public.

Portland police say there is no change in policy and they will not distribute a list of gang affiliations to the public in the future. 

Is there a benefit in knowing the names of gangs that are active in your neighborhood? Is there a cost? Have you worked in the gang outreach or intervention fields? Is the release of a gang’s name to the public helpful or hurtful to your work?


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