Civil rights group files formal complaint, police chief not fazed

South Texas Civil Rights Project

The number of murders, shootings and drug busts have started to mount up in the city of San Juan. To keep a handle on this growing problem, police started to set up checkpoints in the very areas that have been plagued by this type of crime.

"We have to stand up for the crime victims of gang violence, San Juan Police Chief Juan Gonzalez said. That is our main issue here. We have to find every possible way to do this through the legal side."

Since then, the South Texas Civil Right Project has tried to enquire about these checkpoints.

Attorney Joseph Martin told Action 4 News they could be unconstitutional.

"What we've heard is that they (the checkpoints) weren't performed in the immediate aftermath and sometimes it was quite some time after, Martin explained.

Even if that were the case they should be limited to that purpose. If they are going beyond that to collect information then that would be unconstitutional."

Martin told Action 4 News they started to send out public information requests to find out more about these checkpoints and gang databases, but have not heard back from the city.

Now they are filing a formal complaint.

"They didn't respond to the request, Martin started. We repeated the request and they didn't respond. We think this is important information. That's why we filed this suit---to get that information."

Chief Gonzalez said they will not share intelligence with anyone other than law enforcement agencies.

He said this is for the protection of officers and civilians.

But added that anytime they conduct a checkpoint they make sure they are in compliance with laws and that they do not violate any persons civil rights.

"By statue and by law we haven't done anything that is out of the ordinary," Gonzalez said.

As for the gang database, he said it is a state run program and it helps them when it comes to locating potential suspects involved in a crime.