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The Mapping Project

Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC)

According to the description of the Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC) posted on the website of the Boston Police Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Analysis: 

As a major urban area fusion center, the mission of the Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC) is to reduce crime and prevent acts of terrorism throughout the Metropolitan Boston Homeland Security Region (MBHSR) by serving as the central point for the collection, synthesis, analysis, and dissemination of strategic and tactical intelligence to law enforcement, intelligence, first responder and private sector partners; and to assist the Federal Government as a partner for national security. The BRIC was established in 2005 to coordinate efforts of the nine communities in the MBHSR [Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Quincy, Revere, Somerville, and Winthrop]– or the Boston Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) – in their work to reduce crime and prevent terrorism. Since its inception the BRIC has become a hub for public and private stakeholders in and around Boston for the collection and analysis of intelligence information, and the investigation of homeland security-related criminal activities. The BRIC has co-located its analytical and investigative staff in a shared workspace. Critical liaison personnel such as representatives from Boston Emergency Medical Services, Boston Fire Department, Department of Homeland Security Office of Intelligence & Analysis, and Federal Bureau of Investigations Boston Field Office are also assigned to the Center. The BRIC partners with local law enforcement agencies, other first responders, and the private sector operating throughout the nine participating MBHSR municipalities; federal law enforcement and intelligence partners; and other state and major urban area fusion centers to prioritize, collect, analyze, produce and disseminate actionable intelligence – often in real time – with the goal of reducing criminal activity and preventing terrorism.

The repeated mention of the "private sector" in this description of BRIC is significant, since it adds a potential layer of secrecy to the organization's operations by including private companies more capable of conducting surveillance outside the scope of existing laws governing public oversight.

Boston's Gang Database

After its creation, BRIC became responsible for managing Boston's notorious 'gang database.' (Boston Police Department Rules and Procedures, Rule 335, March 23, 2017, see: here.) Under the Boston Police Department's Rule 335, a gang is defined as follows:

"A gang is an ongoing organization, association, or group of three (3) or more persons, whether formal or informal, which meets both of the following criteria:

1. Has a common name or common identifying signs or colors or symbols or frequent a specific area or location and may claim it as their territory and

2. Has members or associates who, individually or collectively, engage in or have engaged in criminal activity which may include incidents of targeting rival gang members and/or being targeted by other gangs."

Individuals are entered into the gang database if they accumulate 10 points on a scoring system that includes the following: Use and or Possession of Group Paraphernalia or Identifiers (4 points); Known Group Tattoo or Marking (8 points); Information from Reliable, Confidential Informant (5 points); Information from Anonymous Informant or Tipster (1 point); Contact with Known Gang Member/Associate (FIO) (2 points per interaction); Documented Association (BPD Incident Report) (4 points per interaction)

The use of types of clothing and other visual symbols, the frequenting of specific "areas," and the criminalization of "association," are all sufficiently broad to allow police to criminalize whole families and neighborhoods. As several articles by the Bay State Banner have reported, Boston's gang database has been used to gather intelligence overwhelmingly on Black and Latinx migrant communities in Boston and to criminalize members of these communities (see: here and here). In January 2022, a federal appeals court found that evidence from Boston's gang database used to deport Cristian Joshue Diaz Ortiz was faulty, citing "flaws in that database, including its reliance on an erratic point system built on unsubstantiated inferences.”

Boston's gang database is also closely tied to the Boston Police Department's system of logging FIOs (Field Interrogation Observation reports), also used overwhelmingly to gather information on racialized communities in Boston. (See separate entry on BPD)

(For the history of gang databases and their relationship to biometric systems of surveillance and control, see entry on the Boston Police Department as well as article on Police Organizations in Massachusetts)

Political Surveillance

In 2018, the ACLU gained access to documents showing that BRIC had been using Geofeedia software to monitor social media over protests against racism and police brutality, as well as "basic Arabic words used in everyday conversation and the hashtag '#muslimlivesmatter,' suggesting that BPD considered Muslims as a group to be legitimate targets of surveillance." (Further public record requests from the ACLU provide a window into some of the private companies with which BRIC contracts for software and intelligence analysis, including Centra Technology Inc., and LexisNexis Accurint.)

Since BRIC operates in conjunction with the US Department of Homeland Security, also relevant are these documents obtained by the Center For Constitutional rights, which show surveillance of racial justice organizations under the rubric of "black identity extremism."

1 Schroeder Plaza, Boston, MA 02120

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