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Thursday, 1/21/10


4:16 PM: Two men were reportedly entering a business at 3rd and Quesada when a black male adult wearing all dark clothing with a black hoodie started shooting, hitting both of them. The were hospitalized, but their injuries aren’t life threatening. No one’s been arrested. More at the Examiner.

11:30 PM: A woman walking on the 700 block of O’Farrell when she was reportedly confronted by a man who hit her and took her purse, before fleeing on foot. Her injuries weren’t life threatening, and no one’s been arrested.

Friday, 1/22/10

12:38 AM: A man was mugged at gunpoint by another man at Gough and Market. No one’s been arrested.

1:04 AM:A group of five guys got in a fight with three other guys on the 400 block of Columbus. No one’s injuries were life threatening, and no one was arrested.

3:20 AM: A man tried (unsuccessfully) to rob and (successfully) assaulted a woman at 16th and Dolores. Her injuries weren’t life threatening, and her assailant hasn’t been arrested.

Per the discussion of the last three days, today we’re experimenting with the old media “rules” on how and when to specify race in crime stories.

What do you think, does it improve our coverage to not include some of the information we receive from SFPD — that is, the race stuff? Or does it seem conspicuous in its absence, and, as one reader suggested in an email to us, “seems liberal white racist to be elaborately PC and omit that specific data point”?

We suspect everything anyone has to say on the subject has already been (impressively respectfully, thank you!) said, and don’t want to beat this to death. But we wanted to give you one piece written in old media style to see if it had any bearing on your opinion.

the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at eve@sfappeal.com.

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  • Haze Valet

    You can call the use of racial characteristics a specific data point. And yes, it is a specific data point. However, judging by how few arrests there every seem to be associated with the crime blotter events, it appears that this particular specific data point does not help the police that much. Most arrests are probably made on less general data points, such as name, clothing color, license plate number. I voted to keep the information off of the blotter, because anyone reading this a a day after the events, will probably not be helpful in catching the perps based on their racial characteristics. 2 cents and I am out!

  • Haze Valet

    You can call the use of racial characteristics a specific data point. And yes, it is a specific data point. However, judging by how few arrests there every seem to be associated with the crime blotter events, it appears that this particular specific data point does not help the police that much. Most arrests are probably made on less general data points, such as name, clothing color, license plate number. I voted to keep the information off of the blotter, because anyone reading this a a day after the events, will probably not be helpful in catching the perps based on their racial characteristics. 2 cents and I am out!

  • seth22

    You know, the real bummer in all of this is not whether reporting the fact of someone’s race is racist, but the fact that SFPD can’t seem to catch a criminal, regardless of race.

    Depending on who instigated that North Beach fight, I count 0 suspects arrested out of a potential 7 or 9 in today’s blotter. The day before wasn’t much better: 1 arrest out of 7 potential suspects.

    Instead of talking in circles about whether noting race is racist, we get on the SFPD to actually solve crimes so that everyone, regardless of race, can feel a little safer. Novel idea, no?

  • seth22

    You know, the real bummer in all of this is not whether reporting the fact of someone’s race is racist, but the fact that SFPD can’t seem to catch a criminal, regardless of race.

    Depending on who instigated that North Beach fight, I count 0 suspects arrested out of a potential 7 or 9 in today’s blotter. The day before wasn’t much better: 1 arrest out of 7 potential suspects.

    Instead of talking in circles about whether noting race is racist, we get on the SFPD to actually solve crimes so that everyone, regardless of race, can feel a little safer. Novel idea, no?

  • modelenoir

    Eve, I think this looks great. Not drastically different from the previous format, but it’s easier to consume, and no less actionable or relevant than before.

    In the first incident, race was decided to be included, based the decision that the case deserved race to be included. As long as you deliberately decide that it should be included, I bet you’ll do what you think is correct

    Thanks, Eve. It’s been fun.

  • modelenoir

    Eve, I think this looks great. Not drastically different from the previous format, but it’s easier to consume, and no less actionable or relevant than before.

    In the first incident, race was decided to be included, based the decision that the case deserved race to be included. As long as you deliberately decide that it should be included, I bet you’ll do what you think is correct

    Thanks, Eve. It’s been fun.

  • modelenoir

    I don’t think anyone intended to call it racism, just point out that race is irrelevant in most of these incidents.

    You do make a good point in that many of these crimes go unresolved, and that is a real issue. I think there is a real problem with police capacity to do anything in these cases. I have a personal experience with this.

    –context–
    I was jumped by three dudes, woke up in the hospital. Plenty of money in medical and dental, and permanent scars on my face, broken teeth, shattered sinus cavity, blah, blah. It sucked, but I eventually fully recovered, physically anyway.

    The police said they could do nothing, and then did nothing.

    They wouldn’t even go talk to the bar that it happened outside of… the same bar I yelled in to ask for help… the same bar that did nothing… the same bar that the three guys came out of. It came down to them saying they didn’t have the capacity to deal with it. They said the chances of them solving it were so remote that it really wasn’t worth investigating. I was already over it and just let it pass.
    –end context–

    Anyway, I’m not sure many of these cases could be solved given any amount of resources. Many are random petty incidents, and witnesses or evidence are probably scarce, if there even are any. So much of this petty crime goes unsolved because there isn’t a way to get to the bottom of it. From what I understand, my incident had more than most to go on, and the police department seemed like it was just not solvable given their resources. I can imagine a lot of these blotter incidents have even less to go on.

    The real problem is that these things happen at all. Meeting in the middle between prevention and resolution seems like a reasonable strategy, though I’m not sure what practical prevention strategies can be implemented in these petty incidents. Street lights? Foot patrols? Video cameras never seem to be received very well. For gun-related crime, those shot-spotters seem to have been somewhat useful in certain areas.

    What are your thoughts or suggestions?

    One bright spot in the incident was the CA Victim Compensation program, which helped me pay the bills that my insurance did not cover. It’s a great program that I did not know existed before the incident. I’m grateful for the service they provided. Also, nothing against the police officers that I dealt with, they were respectful and sympathetic. I understand there’s not much else they could have done personally, it’s an organizational issue. It felt like a failure much higher up the chain.

  • modelenoir

    I don’t think anyone intended to call it racism, just point out that race is irrelevant in most of these incidents.

    You do make a good point in that many of these crimes go unresolved, and that is a real issue. I think there is a real problem with police capacity to do anything in these cases. I have a personal experience with this.

    –context–
    I was jumped by three dudes, woke up in the hospital. Plenty of money in medical and dental, and permanent scars on my face, broken teeth, shattered sinus cavity, blah, blah. It sucked, but I eventually fully recovered, physically anyway.

    The police said they could do nothing, and then did nothing.

    They wouldn’t even go talk to the bar that it happened outside of… the same bar I yelled in to ask for help… the same bar that did nothing… the same bar that the three guys came out of. It came down to them saying they didn’t have the capacity to deal with it. They said the chances of them solving it were so remote that it really wasn’t worth investigating. I was already over it and just let it pass.
    –end context–

    Anyway, I’m not sure many of these cases could be solved given any amount of resources. Many are random petty incidents, and witnesses or evidence are probably scarce, if there even are any. So much of this petty crime goes unsolved because there isn’t a way to get to the bottom of it. From what I understand, my incident had more than most to go on, and the police department seemed like it was just not solvable given their resources. I can imagine a lot of these blotter incidents have even less to go on.

    The real problem is that these things happen at all. Meeting in the middle between prevention and resolution seems like a reasonable strategy, though I’m not sure what practical prevention strategies can be implemented in these petty incidents. Street lights? Foot patrols? Video cameras never seem to be received very well. For gun-related crime, those shot-spotters seem to have been somewhat useful in certain areas.

    What are your thoughts or suggestions?

    One bright spot in the incident was the CA Victim Compensation program, which helped me pay the bills that my insurance did not cover. It’s a great program that I did not know existed before the incident. I’m grateful for the service they provided. Also, nothing against the police officers that I dealt with, they were respectful and sympathetic. I understand there’s not much else they could have done personally, it’s an organizational issue. It felt like a failure much higher up the chain.

  • cedichou

    I’ve already commented on the policy, but thanks for making a sample for indeed confirming that I like it better this way.

  • cedichou

    I’ve already commented on the policy, but thanks for making a sample for indeed confirming that I like it better this way.

  • Blaze King

    Please include ALL info. The more info the better. Race is not irrelevant. Any description of the perpetrator is helpful. In the case of the victim, less so. Although it may be helpful to someone who may have witnessed the people before during or after the incident.

  • Blaze King

    Please include ALL info. The more info the better. Race is not irrelevant. Any description of the perpetrator is helpful. In the case of the victim, less so. Although it may be helpful to someone who may have witnessed the people before during or after the incident.