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Man wants 'gang' tag removed from database

BCCLA sent letter to police complaint commissioner

The Vancouver Police Board has ordered the Vancouver Police Department to investigate a complaint by a man whose personal information was recorded in a police database and potentially links him to a gangster.

The man, whose name is redacted in police board documents, volunteered his personal identification after two police officers approached him and his friends in a Cactus Club Café on Davie Street.

Just prior to the interaction, another man and two women briefly and unexpectedly joined the man and his friends at their table. The complainant didn't know the man or the women. After the man left, the officers approached the complainant and his friends and told them the man who left was known to police. The officers then asked to see the complainant's personal identification, which was recorded in the PRIME police database.

PRIME is a database and records management system that all B.C. police forces use to collect, use and disclose law enforcement information. The complainant's story was recorded by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, which learned from the man's research into the matter that his information was collected as a "street check" involving "a known gang affiliate."

"This information could negatively impact [the complainant] at every future point when his name is searched in the system, for example, if he requests a criminal record check for a volunteer or work position," wrote David Eby, executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties' Association in a letter to Police Complaint Commissioner Stan Lowe.

Eby said the complainant has gone to extraordinary lengths in an attempt to discover the precise nature of his personal information stored in PRIME. "As a result of his inability to access significant portions of the information in his file, he is practically prevented from knowing whether it contains inconsistent information that should be the subject of a factual correction request, in addition to a request to correct the information to accurately reflect the innocent nature of his contact with the police," Eby wrote.

Police board member Patti Marfleet said at a Feb. 22 meeting that she hoped the police's investigation of the complaint will clarify "what, when and how do we use that information."

Police board member Mary Collins echoed Marfleet's concern and said it's an issue "that all of us as individuals have some concerns about."

The board's next meeting is March 21.

Twitter: @Howellings