You are reading

Queens Councilmembers Co-Sponsoring Bill to Abolish NYPD’s Gang’s Database

Tiffany Cabán (L), Julie Won (C) and Shekar Krishnan (R) are co-sponsoring a bill that would abolish the NYPD’s gang database (Photos: Michael Dorgan and NYC Council)

Sept. 29, 2022 By Michael Dorgan

Three Queens Councilmembers are co-sponsoring a bill that would abolish the NYPD’s gang database.

The bill, which is being co-sponsored by Queens progressives Tiffany Cabán, Julie Won and Shekar Krishnan, would end the database and prevent the police department from compiling a replacement.

The NYPD’s gang database is a police resource tool containing the names of alleged gang members and other intelligence relating to street gangs. It is estimated that there are around 18,000 people currently listed on the database.

In a 2021 report, the NYPD stated that the database is a “critical component of modern policing and an invaluable tool for detectives investigating crime.”

However, advocates for the bill say that police have abused the database by unfairly targeting people of color. They often point to former police commissioner Dermot Shea stating in 2018 that 99 percent of those on the database are people of color.

Supporters of the legislation also say that people with no ties to gangs have been placed on the database and there is no way for them to get their names removed. They say that this can often lead to intensive surveillance, police harassment, overcharging, increased bail, risk of deportation and prejudicial treatment in court.

“The gang database is nothing but a dragnet to surveil and criminalize Black and brown New Yorkers, especially youth,” Cabán said in a statement to the Queens Post.

“It does nothing to reduce violence and plenty to intensify the horrors of the criminal punishment system.”

Cabán, a former public defender, said she has witnessed prosecutors weaponizing the database to coerce false confessions from people.

“Kids on this list for as little as wearing the wrong colors in the wrong place are threatened with gang conspiracy charges, and more,” said Cabán, who represents the 22nd District in western Queens covering Astoria, Rikers Island and portions of East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights and Woodside.

“We must eliminate the gang database and prevent the creation of a replacement.”

Cabán attended a protest in Brooklyn earlier this month to rally support for the legislation. She has previously called for the need to defund and disband the NYPD, as well as advocating for Rikers Island to be shut down without the construction of new jails. The Astoria resident has also opposed Mayor Adams’ decision to bring back plainclothes police teams — saying they are ineffective and unfairly target minorities.

Cabán is instead calling for a radically different approach to public safety which would include less policing and encouraging local business owners to get trained in de-escalation tactics should they encounter a conflicting situation.

“If we truly care about public safety outcomes, the evidence-based, data-driven way forward is crystal clear,” Cabán said. “We must invest in the supports our young people need: mental healthcare, high-quality education, restorative justice, employment opportunities, nutritious food, and more.”

Cabán, Won, and Krishnan are among the 14 Councilmembers co-sponsoring the bill. It was introduced in May but is currently in committee, having not been put to the floor for a vote.

The Queens Post reached out to Won and Krishnan for comment in relation to the bill but did not receive a response. Won represents the 26th council district in western Queens while Krishnan is the Councilmember for District 25 covering Jackson Heights and Elmhurst.

The move to eliminate the NYPD’s gang database comes at a time when most citywide crime categories have increased this year — with overall crime up 34.4 percent, according to city data.

Crime stats for the 114th Precinct (NYPD)

For instance, in the 114th Precinct, which covers much of Cabán’s district, overall crime is up 23.3 percent compared to the same period last year. However, murders are down 62.5 percent and rapes are down 20 percent in her district.

The precinct also includes the Astoria, Woodside, Ravenswood and Queensbridge Houses – NYCHA complexes where there have been several shootings in the past three years.

Councilmember Robert Holden, a staunch supporter of the NYPD, is concerned that, if passed, the bill could lead to even more crime in the city.

“With the explosion of gang violence claiming so many innocent victims in this city, just who are these council members pretending to protect?” Holden said in a statement to the Queens Post.

“Eliminating the gang database is reckless, irresponsible and will result in even more violence in this city.”

email the author: news@queenspost.com
No comments yet

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Queens Special Victims Squad joins search for alleged rapist in Downtown Flushing: NYPD

Detectives from the Queens Special Victims Squad have joined the urgent manhunt for the sexual predator who allegedly beat and raped a 53-year-old woman inside a commercial building in Downtown Flushing on the night of Sunday, July 14.

Police from the 109th Precinct in Flushing responded to a 911 call after the victim was attacked at 11:06 p.m. inside the business in the vicinity of Prince Street and 40th Road near the Bland Houses NYCHA complex after the perpetrator punched her multiple times in the head before forcibly raping her, police said. The stranger then fled on foot in an unknown direction.

AG James announces dismantling of Queens-based ghost gun trafficking operation

New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Wednesday the takedown of a prolific Queens-based gun trafficking crew accused of selling firearms and ammo at an East Elmhurst playground, the Queens Center Mall and other locations around the borough.

James secured a 625-count indictment charging five men for participating in the gun smuggling ring, which involved selling dozens of ghost guns, assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.