08/16/2012 07:40 am ET

San Francisco Police Department Falsified Racial Statistics For Arrests, Report Finds

San Francisco's police department has been underreporting the number of Latinos and Asian Americans who have been arrested for more than a decade by classifying them as members of other ethnic groups, according to the San Francisco Bay Citizen.

The city's police counted many Latinos that had been arrested as "white" and many of the Asian-Americans arrestees as "other," junking up the official stats. The city has been long criticized for racially profiling blacks, and the fake numbers make it appear that the disparity in arrest rates between blacks and whites less stark. The report said that while only six percent of the city's population was black, African Americans make up 40 percent of all arrests there.

Police officials blamed the misclassification on a decades-old computers system only allows officers to categorize people who arrested as black, white or other.

Albert Samaha of San Francisco Weekly said the dramatic overrepresentation of blacks among the city's arrestees reflects a similar overrepresentation in the city's gang stats. The city reported that 59 percent of all gang members there were black, even though blacks made up only 20 percent of gang members throughout the state and no other California country said that blacks made up more than 29 percent of street gangs.

The revelation comes not longer after the city's mayor, Ed Lee, said he was no longer considering implementing a stop-and-frisk policy, which would allow police officers in high-crime neighborhoods to detain and search people deemed to be suspicious. Critics complain that stop-and-frisk policies violate constitutional rights forbidding illegal search and seizure and that they are tantamount to racial profiling.

A study on New York City's stop-and-frisk policy found that nearly 90 percent of the 678,000 people who were detained were black or Latino, even though very few stops resulted in arrests and white men were more likely to be found carrying drugs and weapons.