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The San Francisco Police Department is ending its practice of releasing booking photos, or mugshots, of people suspected of crimes, in an effort to reduce racial bias.
According to police, the photos will only be released in circumstances where their release is necessary to inform the public about immediate danger or when asking for the public’s help to find a missing or at-risk person.
“This policy emerges from compelling research suggesting that the widespread publication of police booking photos in the news and on social media creates an illusory correlation for viewers that fosters racial bias and vastly overstates the propensity of black and brown men to engage in criminal behavior,” Police Chief Bill Scott said in a statement Wednesday.
“By implementing this groundbreaking new policy today, SFPD is taking a stand that walks the walk on implicit bias while affirming a core principle of procedural justice — that those booked on suspicion of a crime are nonetheless presumed innocent of it,” Scott said in a statement.
“San Francisco’s is the first police department in the nation, to my knowledge, to implement a policy to halt the release of most booking photos in order to avoid the problems they risk creating by fostering implicit bias,” said Dr. Jack Glaser, a professor at University of California at Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy.