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San Francisco Police Disproportionately Search African-Americans

African-Americans in San Francisco are stopped and searched by police officers in disproportionate numbers and are subject to a host of other actions that appear to be discriminatory, according to a report issued on Monday that found the Police Department was in need of significant overhaul. The report also said that the department's disciplinary system was riddled with shortcomings.

San Francisco's police force has been shaken by a series of scandals over the past two years, including racist and homophobic text messages exchanged by officers, cellphone videos of officers abusing residents, and questionable shootings of Latinos and African-Americans — including the fatal shooting in May of an unarmed black woman.

Gregory P. Suhr, the police chief, resigned under pressure in May, and the department is undergoing a review by the Justice Department's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. That review is separate from the city analysis released Monday.

The report, by the Blue Ribbon Panel on Transparency, Accountability and Fairness in Law Enforcement, found that while African-Americans make up 5.8 percent of the city's residents, they constituted about 40 percent, 20 of 51, of the victims of officer-involved shootings from January 2010 through July 2015. (The study noted that no race was listed for suspects in 18 of the 69 total shootings during that period).

The study also found evidence of racial disparities in the rate of police stops and searches of African-Americans, even though officers were far less likely to find guns, drugs or other contraband on blacks.

"Nationally, people would be surprised by this because we are such a wealthy and diverse city," said Joi Jackson-Morgan, the executive director of the 3rd Street Youth Center and Clinic in Bayview-Hunters Point, a mostly African-American part of the city. "But there's an explicit bias that directly impacts my community."
 link to www.nytimes.com

San Francisco Police Disproportionately Search African-Americans, Report Says

By TIMOTHY WILLIAMSJULY 11, 2016

Photo
Police officers stood guard at Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco last week during a rally protesting police shootings. Credit Josh Edelson/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

African-Americans in San Francisco are stopped and searched by police officers in disproportionate numbers and are subject to a host of other actions that appear to be discriminatory, according to a report issued on Monday that found the Police Department was in need of significant overhaul. The report also said that the department's disciplinary system was riddled with shortcomings.

San Francisco's police force has been shaken by a series of scandals over the past two years, including racist and homophobic text messages exchanged by officers, cellphone videos of officers abusing residents, and questionable shootings of Latinos and African-Americans — including the fatal shooting in May of an unarmed black woman.

Gregory P. Suhr, the police chief, resigned under pressure in May, and the department is undergoing a review by the Justice Department's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. That review is separate from the city analysis released Monday.

The report, by the Blue Ribbon Panel on Transparency, Accountability and Fairness in Law Enforcement, found that while African-Americans make up 5.8 percent of the city's residents, they constituted about 40 percent, 20 of 51, of the victims of officer-involved shootings from January 2010 through July 2015. (The study noted that no race was listed for suspects in 18 of the 69 total shootings during that period).

The study also found evidence of racial disparities in the rate of police stops and searches of African-Americans, even though officers were far less likely to find guns, drugs or other contraband on blacks.

"Nationally, people would be surprised by this because we are such a wealthy and diverse city," said Joi Jackson-Morgan, the executive director of the 3rd Street Youth Center and Clinic in Bayview-Hunters Point, a mostly African-American part of the city. "But there's an explicit bias that directly impacts my community."

Jeff Adachi, the city's public defender, told the panel that "black and Latino men in San Francisco are subject to unjustified searches all the time."

The department's own data from February 2016 found that 15 percent of people pulled over in traffic stops that month were African-Americans — far higher than their percentage of the city's population.

By contrast, the percentage of traffic stops where the driver was white was 36 percent, according to the data. Whites make up about 41 percent of the city's population.

Further, during traffic stops, African-Americans and Latinos were far more likely to be searched, including nonconsensual searches, the analysis showed. "As a result, although black people accounted for less than 15 percent of all stops in 2015, they accounted for over 42 percent of all nonconsent searches following stops," the report said.

The searches, according to the analysis, pointed to potential bias because the data showed that African-Americans who were searched were typically not found to be in possession of anything illegal.
Photo
Police officers in San Francisco last week fired rounds of beanbags and deployed flash-bang grenades in a standoff with a man who had a weapon. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times

In 2014, for instance, the report said that the police recovered contraband nearly three-quarters of the time from whites during nonconsensual searches compared to 33 percent of the time from black people, 42 percent of the time from Latinos and 86.5 percent of the time from Asians.

The report concluded that residents in minority neighborhoods had lost significant trust in the police, citing undercover officers jumping out of cars and frisking young men without their consent as an example.

The panel took over a year to complete its study and held public hearings and interviews with dozens of current and former police officers and city officials. Researchers also reviewed thousands of pages of public documents, the report said.

The panel was formed by the city's district attorney's office in May 2015 in response to the Police Department's text-message scandal. It was led by three former judges appointed by George Gascón, the district attorney of San Francisco.

The primary recommendation of the group was for the city to create an inspector general's office to regularly audit the department — one of the nation's largest with 2,100 officers — to ensure it is complying with its own policies.

"Trust in the department is at an all-time low," said Anand Subramanian, the panel's executive director. "The main takeaway here is that the S.F.P.D. is in need of greater oversight."

A San Francisco Police Department spokeswoman declined to comment on Monday, and the department did not immediately respond to an email requesting a response to the report.

The report said the Police Department declined to cooperate with even modest requests for information, such as refusing to hand over a copy of the police academy's training manual.

In other cases, the study said, the department simply failed to keep adequate records. For instance, official reports regarding officers' use of force — from kicks and punches to gunshots — are kept in paper form rather than stored electronically and often lack basic information, according to the report.

"The S.F.P.D. cannot evaluate whether its officers are applying use of force fairly and without bias if they are also not collecting demographic information about the individuals who are involved in use-of-force incidents with S.F.P.D. officers," the report said.

The analysis also determined that officers were rarely found to be at fault when it comes to citizens' complaints.

Of nearly 2,000 citizen complaints against officers received from 2013 to 2015, fewer than 10 percent were found to have enough supporting evidence to be sustained — and none led to punishment greater than a 10-day suspension, the report said.

"These statistics are troubling and raise questions about whether officers are being held accountable to the citizens they serve," the report said.

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Fbi and police are THE problem 18.Jul.2016 16:48

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