New Database Tracks Gang Members in South Carolina
ROCK HILL, S.C. — Law enforcement agencies across South Carolina are touting a new tool to combat gangs. Monday afternoon, officers from around the state gathered in Greenville to unveil a new web-based effort to track gangs and their members, by name. It’s called Gang-Net and allows officers to put in a name, photo, gang affiliation, and criminal record of a suspected gang member. “It is a great idea,” said Deputy Kim Carnes, a school resource officer and gang officer in Chester County.“it’s really about our safety, and knowing who we’re dealing with,” carnes said. Once officers are trained on the software, they’ll be able to check the database, as well as add to it. That way, if someone is pulled over on a routine traffic stop, or arrested for a crime, officers will know if that person is tied to a gang. To be listed on the gang-net site, a person doesn’t have to be charged with or convicted of any crime. A person’s name could get on the list just for being associated with gang members, wearing certain clothes, or having gang symbols. Carnes said they won’t use the database to profile people, but to track gangs and potential threats. “We’re not gonna say, you’re a gang member, or you’re a gang member, but it’ll help us know if this person is potentially a danger,” she said. Carnes said the database will be useful to slow down gang recruiting efforts. It can show them where major gangs are, or where they could be moving. “Somebody who’s trying to get into a gang is more dangerous to me than someone who’s already in a gang. Because they have something to prove.” In Rock Hill, reports of gang graffiti on buildings, homes and streets have been on the rise. Three more reports of gang tagging came in to police on Monday.The Gang-Net site will only be available to law enforcement agencies with special software and passwords, not the public. About a dozen other states use a similar program. So far, state police say about 240 names are already listed on the site, and dozens of different gangs.