Gang database

Joshua Dankoff filed this request with the Somerville Police Department of Somerville, MA.
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From: Joshua Dankoff

Dear Police Department Public Records Officer,

Pursuant to 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. Stop and frisk and/or field interrogation data for all stop and frisk / field interrogation incidents from 2016 through when the search is conducted in 2021 is requested. To the extent possible, we request raw data with personal identifying information redacted to protect privacy. However, we request that any redactions of personally identifiable information do not extend any further than necessary. In particular, we request incident-level data in CSV or excel format (or, if necessary another electronic format) that includes:
- Sex of individual(s) encountered
- Age of individual(s) encountered
- Race of individual(s) encountered
- Ethnicity of individual(s) encountered
- Location of incident
- Time and date of incident
- Source of the field incident report (ie did this report come in via a 911 call, or other means)
- Whether the field incident included a search of individuals.
- Outcome of field interrogation be included in the release, including whether it led to an arrest or not.
- Name of officer filing the field incident report (or other similarly named report)
- Badge number of officer filing the field incident report (or other similarly named report)
- Name of other officers listed in the report, if any
- Badge numbers of other officers listed in the report, if any

3. 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.

4. Where no such records in the above categories exist, please provide a written statement to that effect.

Disclosure of the requested policies and data is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute to public understanding of the intersection of school policing, immigration policy, and the juvenile justice system. To the extent there are the costs associated with the production of these documents, we request they be waived considering that we are a non-profit organization. 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. 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.
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 data requests above.

We requested these (and other) records previously in June 2021, and we received a cost estimate. We are re-submitting this request now with a narrower scope in hopes that we can receive records without triggering a fee.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter.

Joshua Dankoff
Director of Strategic Initiatives
Citizens for Juvenile Justice


Dear Mr. Dankoff,

On behalf of the Records Access Officer and Records Custodians, I am writing in response to your below request related to gang database/stop and frisk.

Attached are readily accessible responsive records, which the City has provided at no charge.

I hereby provide you with the following good faith estimate of the applicable fees for the remaining records, based on information provided by the Somerville Police Department.

Estimated time to retrieve and review: 1,500 hours X $25 per hour (maximum fee allowed by law without Supervisor of Public Records approval) = $37,500.

Less 1st 2.0 hours of search and segregation time per G. L. c. 66, § 10(d)(iii) = $50.00

Total Estimated Fee: $37,450

The above is only an estimate. The actual cost of producing the record(s) may vary once the City begins preparing the records. If the actual cost is higher than the estimate, you will be
required to pay the difference before receiving the records. If the actual cost is lower than the estimate, you will be refunded the difference. As shown above, no fee has been assessed for the first two hours of time associated with responding to your request. If you would like to obtain the records, to be provided in electronic format (unless maintained in paper format), please send a check payable to the City
of Somerville in the amount of $37,450. Please send it to: City Hall, Law Department, 93 Highland Avenue, Somerville, MA 02143. Upon receipt of the estimated fee, the City will commence providing the requested public record(s) and shall withhold or redact any record or portion thereof to the extent provided by law, specifying the applicable exemption(s).

Please let me know if you would like to discuss narrowing your request to more efficiently target the records you are looking for.

David Shapiro
City of Somerville
Assistant City Solicitor
93 Highland Avenue
Somerville, MA 02143
(617) 625-6600 Extn. 4409

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