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Review Finds San Francisco Police Disproportionately Targeted Minorities

LaJoy Crenshaw, center, holds a picture of Mario Woods during a demonstration outside of city hall, in December 2015.
Marcio Jose Sanchez
LaJoy Crenshaw, center, holds a picture of Mario Woods during a demonstration outside of city hall, in December 2015.

The San Francisco Police Department disproportionately targets people of color, a review by the Justice Department's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services has found.

The 400-plus-page report found among other things:

-- Nine out of 11 use of deadly force incidents from 2013 to 2016 involved people of color.

-- Black drivers were "were disproportionately stopped compared to their representation in the driving population."

-- Black and Latino drivers were also disproportionately searched and arrested in comparison to white drivers.

-- Despite that, police were less likely to find contraband on people of color.

-- The report found that SFPD did not adequately investigate officer use of force.

-- Bias also permeated personnel practices. The report found that SFPD had a good record of hiring minorities, but "gender, racial, and ethnic minority recruits were terminated at a higher rate from recruit training as compared to White male recruits."

The review is unlike others the Justice Department has undertaken in the recent past, because San Francisco has already entered into an agreement with Justice to try to remedy the issues brought up by the report.

Following controversial incidents, including the shooting death of Mario Woods and some police officers exchanging racist and homophobic text messages, Mayor Ed Lee and former Police Chief Greg Suhr asked the Justice Department to look into the policing practices of the SFPD.

The report provides 272 recommendations to deal with some of these problems.

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Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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