Asheville police using statewide database to track gangs

The Asheville Police Department has signed on to use an online information database to help it identify, track and respond to gang and gang-related crime.

Lt.  Kevin West and Officer Steve Riddle of the APD this month attended a two-day training session in Charlotte on how to use GangNET, which has already been in use in several of the state’s largest cities for the past several years.

GangNET, the use of which is restricted to law enforcement, allows agencies to compile data linking gang members to vehicles, locations, field interviews and affiliates. The system also collects information on gangs “AKAs,” symbols, slang, aliases and tattoos.

“The Asheville Police Department wants to be on the cusp of utilizing technology and networking solutions with other police agencies to assist with the burgeoning gang problem statewide,” West said. “Our goal is to collaboratively and intelligently use resources before the problem gets out of hand in our community. Criminals are mobile … and now once a gang member is identified in this state he or she can be tracked throughout the state as more and more police agencies come on line with this system.”

The Governor’s Crime Commission recently identified 400 gangs with more than 5,000 members in North Carolina. GangNET’s database defines a gang as “an ongoing organization, association, or group of three or more persons with a common interest, bond or activity; characterized by the commission of, or involvement in, a pattern of criminal or delinquent behavior.”

GangNET users can quickly generate gang rosters, as well as statistical reports by the click of a mouse. GangNET also provides a resource for officers to collaborate and share their expertise and to find others with a particular expertise.

The state database is managed by the State Bureau of Investigation. The North Carolina Governor’s Crime Commission coordinated and funded the statewide rollout of GangNET. Attorney General Roy Cooper‘s office helped to procure funds that have enabled state agencies to be a part of the effort.

— Hal L. Millard, staff writer

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