NC GangNET is a database that has a web based capability of allowing certified users to enter and/or view information on gang suspects and members that have been validated as such using standardized criteria. The system is governed by state and federal regulations that dictate the use of the information in intelligence databases. Basically, any user or viewer must have both a “right to know “and a “need to know” to access any information contained in the database. The data is the sharing of the notes, field interviews or observations between officers in the same or other law enforcement agencies about subjects that have been validated and submitted into the system. No information obtained from NC GangNET can be used as discovery or evidence in court proceedings. If no new information is submitted on a subject within a five-year period, all information on that subject is removed from the system.
NC GangNET was started in 2003 by the Durham County Sheriff's Office in collaboration with the Durham Police Department and funded through Governor's Crime Commission grants. The software was originally designed by SRA International. This product was adapted as GangNET and used in California as CalGang and also in other states and communities to share intelligence information on gang members between law enforcement jurisdictions. Durham Sheriff's Office held the North Carolina state license for the GangNET system and was responsible for training and certifying law enforcement users from their jurisdiction and gradually trained surrounding law enforcement agencies how to use the system.
In 2005 a state GangNET Governing Board was established to determine how to make a statewide GangNET system that would work in concert with the Durham system. Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department obtained a GangNET node license via a grant from the Governors Crime Commission. An additional node license was purchased for a server to be placed within the Department of Justice (DOJ) as a central replication point. This allowed the Durham (Eastern) node to replicate to the Central node and the Charlotte (Western) node to also replicate its data. The Central node at the DOJ was the collection of all North Carolina GangNET data. In 2009 NC Department of Corrections (now Division of Adult Corrections) information on Security threat group members (their term for “gang”) within state prisons began to be bridged into the GangNET system. Upon release into our communities it is vital that local law enforcement be aware of these inmates' prison gang activities.
In 2013, the system was consolidated as a single node with the most current software produced by the vendor, SRA International. It is now housed on a secure server maintained by the Department of Public Safety and administered by specialized staff of the Governor's Crime Commission. The system is slated to have access to other state and federal GangNET systems via a collaborative connection developed by the Washington, D.C./Baltimore, MD High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), which is a law enforcement designation. This is important for law enforcement in North Carolina counties that border Virginia and South Carolina which are also a part of this collaboration, and any North Carolina law enforcement agency along the many Interstate Highways that are used as drug trafficking corridors.
An example of how this system helps protect both law enforcement and the community would be:
A Sheriff's Deputy while on patrol in a rural eastern NC county pulls a car for speeding. He enters the vehicle license and finds out the owner is a 19 year old man named John Jones from a large metropolitan area in western NC. The Deputy then searches NC GangNET for John Jones and finds the subject and determines he is a member of a specific gang and known to deal in illegal drugs and be armed and dangerous. There are notations from three different officers in his record within NC GangNET.
The additional knowledge obtained from NC GangNET is simply the information gained by local police that know of and have had contact with this person. This information may very well dictate the behavior of the Deputy in approaching the car or calling for additional assistance, thus preventing a potential for any dangerous outcome. Additionally, if John Jones was on probation and had sanctioned travel restrictions, the probation officer could have access to information that may indicate a probation violation. Without NC GangNET, the Deputy may have never known about the probation or a need to notify his probation officer.
The NC GangNET system does not validate people as gang members, gang suspects or gang associates. The certified law enforcement users are the individuals that have validated these subjects and entered the information deemed important to share with other officers. The majority of NC GangNET certified users are limited to the ability to view data but not enter, edit or run reports. There are four categories of certified user roles for the NC GangNET system, with. These roles of users are:
- System Administrators: .06% (GCC NC GangNET system administrators only)
- Power Users: 10.5% (senior gang unit staff who have the most privileges to edit and run ad hoc reports)
- Gang User: 7.9% (users that can view and add/edit gang members to the system)
- View Only Users: 81.5% (users that only have a read or view only access to the system data and cannot make additions, edits or changes to the data)
This information is provided as a general overview of what the NC GangNET system is and how it works.