MGSF, 1997-2009

The Metro Gang Strike Force (MGSF), founded in 1997 as the Minnesota Gang Strike Force, was permanently disbanded earlier this month by politicians amid unresolved and unconfirmed allegations running the gamut of professional incompetence to overall poor performance to abuse of power and possible criminal activity on behalf of strike force members.

Investigations into some of these allegations have recently begun, but facts be damned, the politicians killed the program dead. Worse yet, they also pulled the plug on what would have been the MGSF’s somewhat smaller, interim replacement unit.

I’m more than a little concerned that in doing so, the State might have done irreparable – literally – harm to the statewide anti-gang effort.

The MGSF existed largely in recognition of the undeniable fact that criminal gangs are a multi-jurisdictional problem. It allowed cases to be investigated across city and county boundaries, and facilitated the systematic, wide-scale collection and dissemination of information among interested parties statewide.

The MGSF wasn’t the only game in town, of course – there were (and are) other Gang Strike Forces throughout the state, doing similar work. The only problem is that they’re almost exclusively – and here in the Twin Cities metro area, are exclusively – limited to a single county, with no formalized framework for sharing of information even between neighboring counties.

The local media have covered the many supposed infractions of the MGSF in recent weeks, almost ad nauseum. What nobody seems to care about, though, is what happens to the MGSF’s, for lack of a better word, intelligence assets. They ran the statewide gang-member database, and collected an untold amount of additional information which still remains incredibly valuable and important… if it exists, and if officers/agencies could somehow get access to it.

The MGSF didn’t have a lot of physical assets – they worked out of a small office building containing a handful of desks, chairs, and computers – and nobody is really too concerned what happens to them now that the Strike Force is no more. Their, for lack of a better term, intellectual property, however, seems to be of equally little concern, and that alarms me more than a bit.

If those databases and computer files still exist – which is a big “if” – they need to be protected from loss or destruction, and someone needs to figure out how to ensure the long-term availability of that data to law enforcement agencies throughout the state. Right now, nobody seems too concerned about this… but they should be, they really should.

Published in: General, Security | on July 21st, 2009| Comments Off on MGSF, 1997-2009

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