A handshake, a tattoo, a jersey; things you see every day could mean something more.
"Some things that are very benign to the untrained eye can be very indicative of gang membership," Sergeant Douglas Blake said. Blake works in the Roseville Police Department's crime suppression unit.
The department's policy number 442, obtained by FOX40, is a set of instructions for the criminal justice intelligence files kept on some people who live in Roseville. It spells out how a person would get in that file - to be "validated" as a gang member.
“And when that validation, or the information that the officer has gathered lands on my desk, I basically review it, and either concur that that person fits the criteria to be validated as a gang member,” Blake said.
Sometimes, it's a pretty easy call for Sgt. Blake. Other times, it can be tough.
“Well, there’s always some level of subjectivity to this determination. But like I said before, it takes a trained eye, knowing the neighborhood, knowing the people, knowing the players in that neighborhood, being familiar with the history of crimes than may have occurred in that area, to be able to label that as a gang area,” Blake told FOX40.
Danny Baldwin, 22, says police got it wrong in his case.
"This tattoo," Baldwin said, showing his San Francisco Giants tattoo. "Officers actually testified that, even though this is the Giants logo, that gang members would use it."
Baldwin was recently convicted of possession of narcotics and threatening a witness, and served the better part of a year in jail. That same jury also found him guilty of gang enhancements, though Baldwin maintains he's not involved in any gang.
"There was like, gasps when we were in the court because they were saying all these things about Danny because it was a shock to the family," mother Kathy Baldwin said. "It was like, where are they getting this from?"
Baldwin's mother says her son's trial made it clear: Danny was validated long before the jury ever ruled.
“I still have sleepless nights. Because, know you, you see the things on the news: men of color being shot. No weapons," she said. "So this is just added to my boys. And probation has warned us, guns are going to be drawn.”
For the men and women of Roseville Police, that’s exactly the point: valuable information so that their officers approach a potentially dangerous situation with the most protection for themselves, and the most protection the people they serve. And this is how it’s done in cites around the state, and around the nation, with one exception.
Roseville's Policy 442 only requires one criteria, one detail that suggests you're a gang member in order to be validated.
“In some situations, all they need is one. But in most other situations, some of the more subjective ones you mention earlier, we have to have at least two,” Sgt. Blake said.
Roseville Police declined to talk about Baldwin's case specifically. However, they did say Blake goes through the criminal justice intelligence system every six months to purge people who no longer fit gang descriptions.
If you are validated, you may never know. Police don’t inform people when a there’s a file on them, and there’s no opportunity for a validated gang member to contest it if it isn't true.
Because of his conviction, Baldwin will have to register with the State of California as a gang member for five years.