policeblotter_sfa.jpg

Monday, 1/18/10



8:25AM: Two black men reportedly got in a fight on the T Third Muni line, which ended when one man threw the other off the train around Third and Shafter and started kicking him. The alleged thrower/kicker was arrested.

10 AM: Two asian men and one black man reportedly got in a fight at Silliman and Hamilton. The cops came, broke it up, and made arrests.

4:25 PM: Three black men reportedly robbed a hispanic man and woman on the 1000 block of Hollister. The suspects have been arrested.

10 PM: Three black men reportedly robbed a cab driver at gunpoint at Harbor and Northridge. No one was injured, no one arrested.

10:25 PM: A white man and a black man reportedly robbed an asian woman at gunpoint, striking her with the gun, as she was walking on the 1800 block of 40th Ave. Her injuries weren’t life-threatening, and no arrest has been made.

11 PM: Three black men reportedly tried to rob an undescribed victim at 15th and Market at gunpoint. When the victim resisted, the suspects hit the victim with the gun. The victim’s weren’t life threatening, and no one’s been arrested.

Tuesday, 1/19/10

2:45 AM: Two black men reportedly robbed a hispanic man on the 1000 block of Mission. No arrests have been made.

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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  • modelenoir

    Weight, height, and eye color, mother’s maiden name, boxer or briefs, John or Kate would be equally important information to provide about each participant to supplement the race.

    Mark

  • modelenoir

    Weight, height, and eye color, mother’s maiden name, boxer or briefs, John or Kate would be equally important information to provide about each participant to supplement the race.

    Mark

  • Eve Batey

    I agree, the more details the better! Unfortunately, on many occasions, this is all we can get. What do you think makes more sense — not covering it unless we have more details, or moving forward on a story with what verified info we do have?

  • Eve Batey

    I agree, the more details the better! Unfortunately, on many occasions, this is all we can get. What do you think makes more sense — not covering it unless we have more details, or moving forward on a story with what verified info we do have?

  • modelenoir

    Sorry, it was a snarky way to comment on the fact that the race of participants is included at all, and so diligently.

    The information is good as far as location, offense, and actions taken by law enforcement, but I don’t see race as an important datapoint (for this forum anyway, though as you well know, you’re the boss).

    I’ll continue reading (as long as religion and sexual orientation stay out of the post), just thought I’d weigh in.

  • modelenoir

    Sorry, it was a snarky way to comment on the fact that the race of participants is included at all, and so diligently.

    The information is good as far as location, offense, and actions taken by law enforcement, but I don’t see race as an important datapoint (for this forum anyway, though as you well know, you’re the boss).

    I’ll continue reading (as long as religion and sexual orientation stay out of the post), just thought I’d weigh in.

  • Eve Batey

    Don’t apologize, this is interesting! I am glad you asked.

    So here’s the backstory on inclusion of race: when I was at the Chronicle, the rule (I am simplifying a great deal) was that you did not include race in breaking crime stories except in very specific cases (for example: “police ask that anyone who sees a man fitting this description…”).

    This is a pretty common practice in mainstream publications, and many struggle with this “tradition.”

    I’ve noticed that commenters on crime stories (not just on the Gate — listen, if I ever consider a policy solely on the basis of Gate commenters, please take my computer away) really respond negatively to this, in many cases they seem to feel condescended to, or like journalists feel they can’t be trusted with that information without starting some race riot.

    Since the race information is public knowledge, and is supplied to journalists without our even asking for it (I usually do have to make some calls to get more info), should we take that information out of the story, or would that seem condescending, as these commenters on other sites seem to feel? What do you think?

  • Eve Batey

    Don’t apologize, this is interesting! I am glad you asked.

    So here’s the backstory on inclusion of race: when I was at the Chronicle, the rule (I am simplifying a great deal) was that you did not include race in breaking crime stories except in very specific cases (for example: “police ask that anyone who sees a man fitting this description…”).

    This is a pretty common practice in mainstream publications, and many struggle with this “tradition.”

    I’ve noticed that commenters on crime stories (not just on the Gate — listen, if I ever consider a policy solely on the basis of Gate commenters, please take my computer away) really respond negatively to this, in many cases they seem to feel condescended to, or like journalists feel they can’t be trusted with that information without starting some race riot.

    Since the race information is public knowledge, and is supplied to journalists without our even asking for it (I usually do have to make some calls to get more info), should we take that information out of the story, or would that seem condescending, as these commenters on other sites seem to feel? What do you think?

  • modelenoir

    Good to know where you’re coming from. Thanks for the links… that’s good information to keep in mind when reading anywhere.

    The real answer comes from what your readership comes to the blotter for. If readers ask for it, then it’s relevant in this case.

    Personally, I come to see the what/where/when of an incident. I don’t see the blotter as something trying to provide actionable information. In this case, including race doesn’t make the listing any more actionable. I interpret the link from AP Stylebook to apply here. If a particular case is being investigated further, or the police want help, then more information may be necessary, possibly a link to the police website, but not by default.

    In the Ono article, I am assuming that the article being mentioned was a bit more in-depth than a one or two-liner, it seemed to be an article about two incidents with the same suspects. “Under the old guidelines, race was not included unless the description was detailed enough to help readers pick the person out of a crowd. Under the new policy, race is to be included in descriptions if there are at least three other elements, among them sex, age, height, weight, clothing or hairstyle.” I think this rules out most of the blotter incidents.

    In the last paragraph, “With the bare-bones description available immediately after the home invasion, people would not be able to pick out the suspects in a crowd. But they could not do that based on the fuller description in the follow-up article either. Im not sure what was accomplished by leaving out the description available, including race, in the first story.” I kind of read that to mean that it didn’t add any constructive aspect to the story. It does support the view that it could leave the reader condescended if it were continued to be left out, but I get the feeling that the goal of the original article was to provide more than just the vitals of the incident.

    All-in-all, I don’t think including race really hurts anything except the average value of each piece of information in the incident. Where: Important, When: Important, What(stabbing, robbery, etc): Important. Race… not sure what it adds, and it seems to bring down the average value of the other data. If race could be included as part of a “Who” category, it could be helpful if supplemented with other data.

    Like I said, not a huge deal and I won’t stop reading if it stays in. Also, didn’t mean it to be so long, sorry about that, but I don’t have time to make it any shorter. I think there’s a Twain quote that goes something like that.

    Mark

  • modelenoir

    Good to know where you’re coming from. Thanks for the links… that’s good information to keep in mind when reading anywhere.

    The real answer comes from what your readership comes to the blotter for. If readers ask for it, then it’s relevant in this case.

    Personally, I come to see the what/where/when of an incident. I don’t see the blotter as something trying to provide actionable information. In this case, including race doesn’t make the listing any more actionable. I interpret the link from AP Stylebook to apply here. If a particular case is being investigated further, or the police want help, then more information may be necessary, possibly a link to the police website, but not by default.

    In the Ono article, I am assuming that the article being mentioned was a bit more in-depth than a one or two-liner, it seemed to be an article about two incidents with the same suspects. “Under the old guidelines, race was not included unless the description was detailed enough to help readers pick the person out of a crowd. Under the new policy, race is to be included in descriptions if there are at least three other elements, among them sex, age, height, weight, clothing or hairstyle.” I think this rules out most of the blotter incidents.

    In the last paragraph, “With the bare-bones description available immediately after the home invasion, people would not be able to pick out the suspects in a crowd. But they could not do that based on the fuller description in the follow-up article either. Im not sure what was accomplished by leaving out the description available, including race, in the first story.” I kind of read that to mean that it didn’t add any constructive aspect to the story. It does support the view that it could leave the reader condescended if it were continued to be left out, but I get the feeling that the goal of the original article was to provide more than just the vitals of the incident.

    All-in-all, I don’t think including race really hurts anything except the average value of each piece of information in the incident. Where: Important, When: Important, What(stabbing, robbery, etc): Important. Race… not sure what it adds, and it seems to bring down the average value of the other data. If race could be included as part of a “Who” category, it could be helpful if supplemented with other data.

    Like I said, not a huge deal and I won’t stop reading if it stays in. Also, didn’t mean it to be so long, sorry about that, but I don’t have time to make it any shorter. I think there’s a Twain quote that goes something like that.

    Mark

  • Eve Batey

    Don’t apologize, this is interesting!

    Now you say “If race could be included as part of a “Who” category, it could be helpful if supplemented with other data.” Now, we do almost always have gender. Does that similarly devalue the other data presented, or does that seem more “meaningful” to you, as a reader?

  • Eve Batey

    Don’t apologize, this is interesting!

    Now you say “If race could be included as part of a “Who” category, it could be helpful if supplemented with other data.” Now, we do almost always have gender. Does that similarly devalue the other data presented, or does that seem more “meaningful” to you, as a reader?

  • modelenoir

    According to the guideline in the Ono article, they recently changed their rules to say that race would be included if three other identifiable pieces of information were available, making 4 data points in total. I think could maybe be actionable, though still not exactly definitive information.

    In the context of SFAppeal Blotter, I don’t think much of that is very useful unless it is qualified as important in the incident report. “Suspect is White with ‘Angela’ tattooed on his neck” or “Suspect is black, driving a canary-yellow minivan with a Tazmanian devil painted on the hood.” Those facts really thin out the population, and would trigger me to at least jog my memory for the existence of those things. I see them as exceptions though, not as something that is going to be included on each incident report. Half the descriptions of just pedigree physical attributes (race/height/weight) would put me, my room mate, or half my friends in the suspect pool at any given time, along with thousands of other people.

    It really gets down to whether or not the blotter could be a place where people are going to be able to get something actionable, or if it is just a tool to see what’s happening around the city, and pick out patterns of places/times to maybe avoid, or checking to see if the robbery they reported turned into an assault/murder.

    Have you heard anything about this topic from anyone else?

  • modelenoir

    According to the guideline in the Ono article, they recently changed their rules to say that race would be included if three other identifiable pieces of information were available, making 4 data points in total. I think could maybe be actionable, though still not exactly definitive information.

    In the context of SFAppeal Blotter, I don’t think much of that is very useful unless it is qualified as important in the incident report. “Suspect is White with ‘Angela’ tattooed on his neck” or “Suspect is black, driving a canary-yellow minivan with a Tazmanian devil painted on the hood.” Those facts really thin out the population, and would trigger me to at least jog my memory for the existence of those things. I see them as exceptions though, not as something that is going to be included on each incident report. Half the descriptions of just pedigree physical attributes (race/height/weight) would put me, my room mate, or half my friends in the suspect pool at any given time, along with thousands of other people.

    It really gets down to whether or not the blotter could be a place where people are going to be able to get something actionable, or if it is just a tool to see what’s happening around the city, and pick out patterns of places/times to maybe avoid, or checking to see if the robbery they reported turned into an assault/murder.

    Have you heard anything about this topic from anyone else?

  • raqcoon

    I like race in stories, so I know who to watch out for. In this case, the human race is the culprit. Avoid at all costs.

  • raqcoon

    I like race in stories, so I know who to watch out for. In this case, the human race is the culprit. Avoid at all costs.