Latino arrestees classified as “white,” Asian arrestees as “other.”
Almost 15 years of erroneous reporting have plagued SFPD’s arrest rate statistics, rendering statistics on two of the city’s largest minority groups seemingly meaningless and prompting widespread concern from civil rights groups and residents alike.
According to the Bay Citizen, SFPD’s computer system (which dates back to 1972) only offers three categories for identifying arrestees: blacks, whites, and “other.”
Though SFPD has attempted to manually calculate the number of minority arrests, Latino arrestees have been misclassified as “white” and Asian arrestees as “other.”
SFPD chief technology officer Susan Giffin tells the BC that “not only can we not tell you if the numbers are right, we really can’t articulate what the problems are, or if there are problems.”
Antiquated technology issues have plagued SFPD for years. In an August, 2011 report, SF Weekly said that “…the closer the SFPD is to being an information black hole, the harder it is to tell when it’s not doing its job.”
Senior immigration attorney Francisco Ugarte echoes that sentiment, telling the BC, “if San Francisco is effectively unable to categorize those in the city being arrested, that would undermine our ability to monitor police practices – particularly in San Francisco, with such a huge Latino population.”
According to the BC, SFPD chef Greg Suhr has asked the controller’s office to reviewing SFPD’s technology issues.
“But its new crime data warehouse will do nothing to correct the arrest report errors, according to Giffin. The system is currently designed to house incident and crime reports, not arrest data.”