San Francisco Police Chief Heather Fong denounced the San Francisco Chronicle’s ongoing series about the Police Department’s use of force as “irresponsible” and a “disservice” to the city, the Chronicle reports. She cited the Chronicle’s Sunday edition, which featured a large photograph of a man the paper mistakenly identified as Sgt. John Haggett, an officer whose use-of-force history was profiled in an accompanying story. The man in the photo is not Haggett, has never been a police officer, and has nothing to do with the series, the paper acknowledged. Fong said she had talked with the city attorney about possible legal action stemming from the series but would not be more specific.
Chronicle editors said they stood by the accuracy of the articles in “The Use of Force” and the series’ analysis. The series reports that a core group of roughly 100 officers, out of a force of 2,200, is accountable for 25 percent of the uses of force logged between 1996 and 2004. Fong said the department had asked for the data the Chronicle used about use-of-force complaints from other cities but that the paper had refused. “If we do not know the source of the data, if we do not know the methodology of comparison, how can we then accept that the conclusions are valid or factual?” Fong said. The Chronicle said it had reviewed records and transcripts of reporters’ interviews and found no request from Fong for data the paper had gathered about citizen complaints about police use of force in other cities.