Database Dictionary

Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies have created several databases of suspected gang members. Here’s a sampling:

GRAB: The Gang Reduction Analysis Bulletin, created by the Cook County Sheriff’s Police Department in September 1997. Provides names of suspected gang members and photos of tattoos, cars and graffiti. Data can be entered by the sheriff’s office, local police departments and the Cook County Department of Corrections. Accessible to law enforcement personnel worldwide through the Internet.

LEADS: The Gang Member File of the Law Enforcement Agencies Data System, administered by the Illinois State Police. Established by the General Assembly in May 1993 for officer protection. The nation’s first uniform, statewide gang database, it includes people with criminal records as well as suspected gang members. An entry may include name, date of birth, physical description, description of car and gang affiliation.

VITAL: The Violent Crime Information Tracking and Linking System, a statewide database run by the Illinois State Police that includes some of the data in LEADS. Designed to help solve crimes rather than to protect officers. The database includes photos, maps, blueprints and other graphics. Can be searched for particular words or phrases, as well as for individuals.

RAPP: The Regional Research Database of the Northwest Suburban Regional Action Planning Project collects information on suspected gang members. Administered by a non-profit consortium of municipalities, businesses, schools and police departments. Detailed information on gang members provided to 12 participating police departments.

RISS: The Regional Information Sharing System is a federally funded, national gang database started in 1974. The RISS gang file contains information on more than 30,000 suspected gang members nationwide.

NCIC: The FBI’s National Crime Information Center is hooked up to 80,000 law enforcement agencies and boasts 17 files with 10 million records. The Violent Gang and Terrorist File was started in October 1995 to help identify criminal gangs, their members and leaders.

GAS: The Gang Awareness System is a software package used by 10 suburban Chicago police departments to gather gang intelligence. Developed by southwest suburban Elwood resident Frank Brandolino Jr. and the Will County Sheriff’s Office, the software retails for $1,295. Among its features: The “autopick” function will select compatible associates for police lineups. Can be operated from a laptop computer in an officer’s car. Brandolino expects to market the software nationally.

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