SPRINGFIELD – Chicago Police Department officials opted last minute not to send a representative to today’s Senate Public Health Committee hearing on CPD’s collection and use of information in the department’s gang databases.

“I’m very disappointed about CPD’s last-minute decision not to testify at today’s hearing,” said Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago, chair of the Senate Public Health Committee).  “There’s no shortage of questions and criticisms on how the CPD collects and uses the information in its gang databases, but CPD officials have continued to claim the databases are valuable tools. Today was their chance to address the critics and make their case for the database and they chose not to show up.”

The use of gang databases to track individuals labeled as suspected gang members has been called into question in recent months. More than 128,000 people are in the department’s gang database, 95 percent of whom are people of color.

Chicago Police Department officials notified the committee just hours before the hearing that they were no longer going to send a representative to answer questions because of legal reasons.

“The stories we heard today from activists and experts raise major concerns and even more questions about CPD’s gang databases,” Van Pelt said. “I’m calling for a moratorium on the use of gang databases until we get answers from CPD.”

Representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law’s Children and Family Justice Center and the University of Illinois-Chicago, as well as concerned community members and activists, testified at Friday’s hearing.

Van Pelt plans to introduce legislation aimed at reforming the use of gang databases.

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