Senator, sheriff at odds over gang databaseby Laura Yuen, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — A bill that would ban law enforcement agencies from using computer databases of known or suspected gang members is up for a hearing Friday in a Minnesota Senate committee.
Sen. Mee Moua, DFL-St. Paul, says she has concerns about the statewide gang database, as well as a larger one maintained by the Ramsey County Sheriff's office called GangNet.
Moua says GangNet, which includes about 10,000 names, has a low threshold for who is entered.
"It just requires you to meet one of the 10-point criteria," said Moua. "And I think that's concerning, particularly when it is not just adults, but minors, who are being put into these databases."
Moua says she's troubled that the agencies do not notify people when they are on the list, making challenges unlikely.
But the bill has come under fire from critics like Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher. He says dismantling the databases would slow investigations at a time when gang activity is on the rise in Minnesota.
"I think there has been an overreaction by Sen. Moua. I don't think she reflects the rest of the Legislature," said Fletcher. "And I think that overreaction has caused her to introduce reckless legislation that will jeopardize the safety of citizens, officers and case prosecutions."
Fletcher says stripping police of the databases would set back law enforcement 25 years, and force them to use paper files to track gang members.