Dozens of people have been wrongfully arrested by St. Louis police in what the American Civil Liberties Union calls an unacceptable breach of the public's trust.
In a detailed report, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch found that 100 people spent a combined 2,000 hours in jail over the last seven years because of law enforcement errors.
The report found "several recurring problems," including:
• Police failed to verify the identity of people they arrested, especially those who provided someone else’s name.
• In almost every wrongful arrest found, police and other officials overlooked a fingerprint report warning that they either had the wrong person or someone who used an alias.
• The protests of those wrongly arrested often were ignored.
• Officials failed to differentiate between the people who gave false names and the people who suffered for it.
• Authorities downplayed the cases where their own mistake caused a wrongful arrest.
• Officials failed to correct errors in records, setting up repeated wrongful arrests and leaving authorities unsure of who they were holding or who committed which past crimes.
Police said the errors were rare and noted that St. Louis officers make 30,000 arrests every year.
Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri, told The Huffington Post that these mistakes are unacceptable.
"To say we are a large city and mistakes will happen as if that justifies a depravation of liberty is simply incorrect," Mittman said.
Mittman said he hopes to work with police to correct this "ongoing problem."
"We are hopeful collaborative steps can be taken to ensure that this does not happen," he said. "But this needs to change."
Read the whole Post-Dispatch story here.