A report on the New York City Police Department’s controversial gang database will be released sometime this year, four years after it was apparently launched, the city’s Department of Investigations (DOI) commissioner Jocelyn Strauber said Monday.

During her testimony before the City Council at City Hall, Strauber said the agency’s report was in draft form and would be released “within this year.” The DOI began an investigation into the NYPD’s use of the contested database back in 2018, according to a July 2021 report by The City.

“I realize that the end of the year seems quite far off and it may well be sooner but I try to not overpromise in terms of timing, but that is the update on that,” Strauber said during an exchange with Queens Councilmember Tiffany Cabán, who was among three lawmakers who sponsored a bill late last year to abolish the database.

The report will be handed down from the Office of the Inspector General-NYPD (OIG-NYPD), a unit within the DOI.

Officially known as the Criminal Group Database, the policing tool lists roughly 18,000 people the NYPD believes to be involved with gangs. In 2018, former police commissioner Dermot Shea revealed that 99% of those in the database are Black and Latino men. Individuals entered on the list do not have to be charged with a crime, but rather must be associated “... with known criminal group members,” according to a 2021 NYPD outlining the database.

Although NYPD officials have touted the database as a “vital” policing tool against gang violence, criminal justice advocates have said the tool is biased and amounts to racial profiling. They have repeatedly called for more transparency around how the database is compiled and used by the NYPD. Other cities, including Los Angeles and Chicago, have also confronted calls to end or overhaul the practice.

Strauber took charge of the agency in February after being appointed by Mayor Eric Adams and confirmed by the Council. It is unclear where the mayor–a former police captain–stands on the use of the database. Adams, however, has called for “precision policing,” a term some have equated with the use of such databases.

On Monday, advocates who attended the hearing sharply criticized the delay of the report, saying the investigation had taken too long to complete.

“This is an issue that affects predominantly young men of color, and it's one that this Council and many community organizations have been sounding the alarm [on] for years,” said Mike Vitoroulis, a police oversight consultant testifying on behalf of the Legal Aid Society.

Judith Greene, a policy expert with Justice Strategies, a research organization, accused the agency of obstructing the investigation. She cited letters in 2018 and 2019 from lawmakers asking about the status of the investigation.

In 2018, BuzzFeed reported unnamed former and current DOI staffers as saying they were discouraged from looking into the database despite repeated requests from Council members and advocates to do so.

Elizabeth Daniel Vasquez, a lawyer with Brooklyn Defender Services, urged the DOI to release the report immediately. She called a potential nine-month delay “uncalled for.”

“There's no reason that we need to wait another nine months when the report is indeed complete, and it's at the executive level of the DOI,” she said.

Diane Struzzi, a spokesperson for the DOI. shot down the allegation that the DOI was obstructing in its own investigation, calling it "baseless."

“As Commissioner Strauber noted at today’s hearing, she expects the gang database report to be issued this year," Struzzi said. "She also testified that she is aware of and is addressing challenges to the timely issuance of reports by OIG-NYPD."

The article has been updated to include Diane Struzzi's statement. Also, an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Judith Greene's surname.