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Civil Rights

Providence rescinds new gang database policy amid community concerns



Jeffrey Dana

The day after receiving a letter that charged the Providence Police Department with violating the newly enacted Community Safety Act (CSA) through its new gang database policy, Providence City Solicitor Jeffrey Dana responded:

I would like to inform you that, as of today, the Providence Police Department General Order 360.10 has been rescinded. Chief [Hugh] Clements and members of the Command Staff of the Providence Police Department, Commissioner [Steven] Paré, and attorneys from the Law Department are working together to draft a revised Order. Prior to the adoption and implementation of such a revised Order, the Providence Police Department will not be maintaining a so-called gang database.

No officials from the City have responded to UpriseRI‘s request for comment.

In the letter there is no admission from Dana that the rescinded policy violated the CSA.

Shannah Kurland

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Upon passage the Providence City Council called the CSA “one of the most progressive policing bills in the United States,” one that “includes a broad range of measures that strengthen protections for youth, transgender individuals, people of color, and immigrants. The comprehensive scope of the ordinance makes it the first of its kind in the country.”

The CSA expressly forbids the use of association “with other people identified as gang members or any substantially equivalent factor” from the list of criteria used to determine inclusion on the so-called gang database, noted attorney Shannah Kurland, legal director of the Providence Youth Student Movement (PrYSM)’s Community Defense Project. According to Kurland the now rescinded policy violated “the CSA in at least six and as many as nine of the 14 ‘weighted criteria that shall be used to establish an individual’s designation as a gang member within the database.”

The CSA, as enacted:

  • Requires the Police Department to establish policies for determining if an individual should be added to the gang database
  • Prohibits certain factors, such as race, from being included in the criteria for adding someone to the gang database
  • Requires parental notification when anyone under 18 is added to the gang database
  • Allows anyone over 18 to ask if they are on the gang database
  • Creates both an administrative removal process and a formal appeal process for people who feel they were added to the database in error.
  • Requires an annual audit of the gang database to identify any errors and make recommendations for improving its use


Kurland’s letter

Now rescinded Gang Database Policy

Dana’s letter


New Providence Police gang database policy violates Community Safety Act, maintains PrYSM

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Providence FOP elections sparks concerns over implementation of the CSA

Amid tensions between city and community, Mayor Elorza signs the CSA into law

Providence City Council passes the Community Safety Act

CSA Working Group releases final report and draft of renamed Community Safety Act

With all issues resolved, Community Safety Act now ready for final passage

Would the Community Safety Act by any other name smell as sweet?

Attorney Shannah Kurland resigns from CSA Working Group

Gang database criteria a contentious issue at third CSA Working Group meeting

Second meeting of CSA Working Group results in extremely minor changes

Catching up with the Community Safety Act: Where does it stand right now?

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