Gang database, school policing, stop and frisk

Joshua Dankoff filed this request with the Plymouth Police Department of Plymouth, MA.

It is a clone of this request.



From: Joshua Dankoff

Dear Police Department Records Access Officer:

Pursuant to the Massachusetts Public Records Law, I hereby request the following records:

1. Policies concerning gathering and storing of gang information (or 'security threat group' or other related names of high risk individuals), including:
a. Policies for identifying and labeling gang members or individuals suspected of gang affiliation,
b. Policies for maintaining and verifying information contained in any “gang database.”
c. Policies for individuals to appeal listing on such a database
d. Policies related to the sharing of database information with other local or federal authorities.

2. Data regarding how many people have been identified by your department as gang affiliated, gang involved, or part of a 'threat risk group'. To the extent possible, we request raw data with personal identifying information and addresses redacted to protect privacy. We request that any redactions of personally identifiable information do not extend any further than necessary.

Specifically, we request an extract of your department's gang member database (or associated list) to include the following columns:
- Sex of individual(s) on the list
- Age of individual(s) on the list
- Race of individual(s) on the list
- Ethnicity of individual(s) on the list
- Whether the individual on the list is a resident of your municipality or not
- Name of officer who entered the information determined that the individual fulfilled the gang assessment criteria
- Badge number of the officer who determined that the individual fulfilled the gang assessment criteria
- Date individual entered the gang database,
- Most recent date gang related information for the individual was reviewed or entered.

With respect to the form of production, we note that relevant regulations require the production of records in an accessible, commonly used electronic form, to the extent feasible. See 950 CMR 32.04(5)(d). Record custodians are also required to implement new record keeping systems and databases in such a way as to allow for “retrieval of public portions of records to provide maximum public access.” See 950 CMR 32.07(1)(e). Extraction of such data from a database or electronic record system does not constitute creating a new record. See 950 CMR 32.07(1)(f). Printing these records from a database or electronic system, redacting them with a marker, and then re-scanning them, is generally not consistent with these regulations; this process provides the digital records neither in the preferred form nor in a “searchable machine-readable form.” 950 CMR 32.04(5)(d). If necessary, we welcome reasonable suggested modifications pursuant to 950 CMR 32.06(2)(g). Per Attorney Gen. v. Dist. Attorney for Plymouth Dist., 484 Mass. 260, 141 N.E.3d 429 (2020), compiling information from a database is not tantamount to creating a new record that would otherwise be precluded under public records law. Specifically: “Where public records are in electronic form, a public records request that requires a government entity to search its electronic database to extract requested data does not mean that the extracted data constitute the creation of a new record, which would not be required, under the public records law. " Id. at 442 to 443. Thus, we request that your department query its database and provide a response to the records request.

Should you determine that some portions of the documents are exempt from disclosure, please release any reasonably segregable portions that are not exempt. In addition, please note for any such redactions the applicable statutory exemption and explain why it applies to the redacted or withheld information.

I also request that fees be waived as we believe this request is in the public interest, as suggested but not stipulated by the recommendations of the Massachusetts Supervisor of Public Records. In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 10 business days, as the statute requires.


Joshua Dankoff
Director of Strategic Initiatives
Citizens for Juvenile Justice

From: Plymouth Police Department

Mr. Dankoff,

Thank you for taking the time to speak with me by phone on Friday 4/8 about your request sent and received on March 28th. I also very much appreciate your assent to extend the due date of your request to Friday, April 15th.

As we discussed, the Plymouth Police Department has approximately 412 gang affiliation entries in our records management system. Of these, 296 are entered as “None” and 12 are entered as “Unknown.” It is not a mandatory field, so most individuals we interact with have no designation. An additional 85 entries are an alternative use of the RMS’s gang identification function used to identify those who have demonstrated intravenous needle drug use to alert officers to potential officer safety risks during interactions. As a result, a total of 19 individuals identified as having a gang affiliation. While our RMS is unable to manually extract that data with the parameters you requested, information concerning only nineteen records can be compiled manually.

However, we do not have any records concerning policies regarding use of this RMS function. In addition, your second request sent and received on April 6th contained a request for additional records concerning stop and frisk and/or field interrogation data. As of this time, the Plymouth Police Department has no way to easily complete this request as that data is not documented outside of report narratives. We do not use field interrogations, commonly known “field interview” or “FI”, case types in our record management system and we do not have the ability to identify numbers of investigative detentions outside of arrests or traffic stops resulting in citation issuance.

Please let me know if you have any questions thus far. If you have any questions regarding the foregoing, please let me know. I will reach out to you if for some reason I cannot have the applicable data on the 19 records to you by April 15th.

Finally, please use this email address for any and all future records requests you might have. I have also since requested Muckrock update me as the point of contact for all contacts with the Plymouth Police Department.

Thank you,

Sergeant Benjamin Dexter
Sergeant of Records
Plymouth Police Department
20 Long Pond Road
Plymouth, MA 02360
P: (508) 830-4218, ext. 216
F: (508) 830-4227

From: Plymouth Police Department

Mr. Dankoff,

Please see the attached spreadsheet in response to your records request.

The first five columns A through E were manually compiled. The remaining columns with gray headers are those that are automatically generated by extraction from our records management system. Columns that are blacked out have had the information redacted, though not every cell within that column necessarily contained data and, in some cases, very few did. In addition, columns AT through AY refer to the entire record. In effect, data entered into any field contained within a single row of the extracted spreadsheet would cause a date to be logged here, so those dates nor officer ID number are not necessarily reflective of when any gang affiliation data was initially entered or updated. Specific times of day of these updates and modifications have been redacted due to the ability to correlate them with public logs that could lead to the individual at issue becoming identifiable.

Redactions in this record that were not otherwise authorized by the request were made pursuant to G.L. c. 4, §7(26)(c), in that the release of the information in the various redacted columns would identify a person or reveal details of a highly personal nature that could impact a person’s reputation, cause potential identity theft, and might permit a substantial invasion of personal privacy. Please note that we are required to inform you that you have the right to appeal a decision to redact or completely withhold a record the Supervisor of Records, at the address below. The appeal should include your original request along with this response.

Supervisor of Records
Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth
McCormack Building, Room 1719
One Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108

You also have the right to seek judicial review of an unfavorable decision by commencing a civil action in superior court.

Please let me know if you have any questions or if there is anything additional you need from us.

Sergeant Benjamin Dexter
Sergeant of Records
Plymouth Police Department
20 Long Pond Road
Plymouth, MA 02360
P: (508) 830-4218, ext. 216
F: (508) 830-4227