ACLU Report Blasts San Francisco Police Failure to Report on Racial Profiling Stops and Searches

October 7, 2002 12:00 am

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SAN FRANCISCO- A comprehensive report on police stops and searches of motorists released today by the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California sharply criticized the San Francisco Police Department’s failure to take the issue of racial profiling seriously.

“”San Francisco deserves better,””said Mark Schlosberg, Police Practices Policy Director for the ACLU of Northern California and an author of A Department in Denial – The San Francisco Police Department’s Failure to Address Racial Profiling. “”The department’s consistent failure shows the need for a clear policy prohibiting racial profiling and an independent auditor to oversee the data collection program.””

  • African Americans motorists are significantly more likely to be stopped by San Francisco police officers in every police district in the city;

  • African Americans are 3.3 and Latinos are 2.6 times more likely to be searched following a traffic stop than whites;

  • African Americans are more than twice as likely as whites to be asked their consent to be searched without any probable cause of a crime;

  • Despite this disparate treatment, San Francisco police officers are significantly less likely to find any evidence of criminality in searches of African Americans or Latinos;

  • The problem may be much greater than the data reflects due to rampant under-reporting of stops and searches by San Francisco police officers.

The ACLU obtained the relevant police documents through the filing of Public Record Acts requests. The report analyzes traffic stop data collected by the police department from July 1, 2001 through June 30, 2002. The analysis looks at how often and why motorists of different races are stopped as well as how motorists are treated once the decision to stop them has been made.

The ACLU report makes a series of recommendations that include a establishing a clear definition of racial profiling; prohibiting racial profiling by law enforcement; banning pretext stops; prohibiting consent searches; establishing an independent auditor to oversee the data collection program; and holding supervisors and officers accountable.

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