U.S. Justice Department finds racial bias
in San Francisco policing
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[October 13, 2016]
By Curtis Skinner
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The U.S.
Department of Justice on Wednesday released a report outlining
deficiencies it found in the embattled San Francisco Police Department,
including apparent racial bias in traffic stops, searches and killings.
The critical 60-page report comes amid an intense debate in the United
States over police violence and a resurgence of the civil rights
movement, spearheaded by activist group Black Lives Matter, fueled by
police killings of unarmed African-Americans across the country over the
past two years or so.
The report is the first assessment in the Justice Department's so-called
collaborative review of the department, which launched in February in
response to fatal police shootings in the city that sparked angry
The report made 272 recommendations for the department to address issues
from institutionalized and implicit racial bias against
African-Americans and other minority groups to updated use of force and
data collection policies.
"This report makes clear the significant challenges that lie ahead for
the police department and the city," Ronald Davis, director of the
Justice Department's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services,
said in a statement.
The findings echo a report released by a panel of judges in July that
found black and Hispanic people were more likely to be searched without
their consent by officers than whites and Asians.
The San Francisco Police Department in a statement highlighted areas
where the review did not find deficiencies, saying, for instance, the
assessment found the department's use of force "proportionate." But the
department did say it agreed with several of the findings of bias.
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"We are committed to the work that needs to be done to bring our systems
into the 21st century. The San Francisco Police Department wants to be a
leader in creating best practices and policies for the nation," interim
San Francisco Police Chief Toney Chaplin said in a statement.
San Francisco's police department was roiled by months of angry protests
after the videotaped police killing of a black man last December.
In the wake of 26-year-old Mario Woods' killing, two other fatal police
shootings in the city sparked outrage, as did revelations of a second
racist text message scandal within the department in as many years.
In May, the city's then-police chief resigned under pressure from the
previously supportive Mayor Ed Lee. Chaplin, who is African-American,
has been serving in the role of interim police chief since.
(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Bill Rigby)
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