The San Francisco Police Department has underreported the arrest rates of the city’s two largest minority groups for years, misclassifying Latino arrestees as “white” and Asian arrestees as “other,” reports the Bay Citizen. The state has been publishing the erroneous statistics in a report called “Crime in California” since at least 1999. Because of the misclassifications, the department and federal and state officials have no accurate record of how often minorities are arrested in the city, creating skewed statistics and leading to widespread concern among local civil rights groups.
The reported data say that African Americans are arrested at a much higher rate than whites. By misclassifying Latinos, the department has inflated the number of whites arrested, indicating that the gap between the arrest rates for whites and blacks is even wider. Over the years, concerns about racial profiling in the city's African American and Latino communities have sparked city hearings and policy changes. “This is just extremely troubling,” said Francisco Ugarte of the San Francisco Immigrant Legal and Education Network. “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.” The Bay Citizen discovered the discrepancies after the California Department of Justice released the crime statistics for the year 2010 in June.