The Field Information Reports, or 208s, used by TAVIS officers to keep track of so-called "persons of interest" may be doing more to fray police-community relations in priority neighbourhoods than to catch the bad guys.
What are they Records of information about those stopped by the police.
Information includes Name, aliases, date of birth, skin colour, address, contact location and date/time investigated. There's a place for "associates" such as gangs and motorcycle clubs and whether the person stopped has been in drug treatment court.
Police argue 208s are an invaluable investigative tool for identifying known gang members and their associates.
The big but It's mostly blacks who are targeted and written up. Community activists argue that the data made publicly available points to racial profiling.
The courts Have been reluctant to rule on the race issue and unwilling to force the police to disclose records of 208s where racial profiling has been alleged, even in cases where the accused have been acquitted.
A tool for racial profiling In a 2004 case, Superior Court Justice Harry LaForme sounded "a profound note of caution" that the cards "could be a tool used for racial profiling... another means whereby subjective assessments based upon race or some other irrelevant factor can be used to mask discriminatory conduct. If this is someday made out, this court for one will not tolerate it."
The underlying risk To the extent that the cards are used only in certain areas, they create the perception of higher crime in those neighbourhoods.