Law enforcement plans to track region's gangs with Web database

Maryland, Virginia, Washington included in federal project

December 21, 2006|By Matthew Dolan | Matthew Dolan,Sun reporter

Law enforcement officers will soon be able to tap into an Internet-based database filled with information about gang members and their activities throughout Maryland, Virginia and Washington, federal officials announced in Baltimore yesterday.

The Washington-Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force program will oversee the Gang-Net database. It should be up and running by June, said Thomas H. Carr, director of the Washington-Baltimore regional program.

"It's an important first step" to combating the activities of gangs, Carr said. Officials did not say specifically what kind of information would be included in the database, but Carr said that law enforcement agents would need training before gaining access to the secured electronic information.

The idea isn't new. The Maryland data-sharing effort is modeled on a similar program in California. Minnesota started one in 2004, and similar programs exist in Wisconsin, Nevada and New York. Police in Denver, Colo., have had one since at least 2002.

In the future, Carr said, Maryland's data set could be linked to those programs as well as similar databases maintained by federal immigration officials and the FBI.

News of the Gang-Net program came as Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein doled out more than $1.5 million to local jurisdictions and organizations in Maryland for anti-gang efforts. The funds come from a $2 million federal grant given to the state earlier this year.

Each program will be funded for 12 to 18 months, beginning next month, officials said.

matthew.dolan@baltsun.com

For a complete list of the local anti-gang programs receiving new funding, go to baltimoresun.com/gangs.

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