An SFPD squad car. Photo: Todd Lappin/Flickr

In an article published today, Wall Street Journal reports the United States Justice Department is opening a probe into the San Francisco Police Department to investigate allegations of officer misconduct. Last year Public Defender Jeff Adachi alleged a group of undercover officers falsified police reports, entered homes without proper warrants and did not properly identify themselves. From the article:

San Francisco Police Probed: One of Many Law-Enforcement Corruption Cases Opened by Justice Department

Dozens of other instances have since surfaced where officers’ written statements allegedly conflicted with surveillance videos or other evidence. San Francisco’s district attorney dismissed dozens of such cases, and asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate.

Now federal prosecutors are moving forward with a probe that examines, in part, whether San Francisco police made arrests under false pretenses while conducting investigations, many of them concerning the poor people who live in the Henry and other residential hotels, say people briefed on the investigation.

(Note: If you’re not an online subscriber to the Wall Street Journal, you may read the article once on a free trial basis. Subsequent attempts to read this story without a subscriber login will only show a shortened version.)

At least three SF Police officers have been before a grand jury, the Journal reported.

According to the article, the Justice Department is investigating more than 20 police departments nationwide for possible civil-rights violations. What makes the San Francisco case different, the Journal reported, is that if convicted, police officers could serve jail time. Other investigations into the Seattle and Miami police departments are civil cases.

Adachi’s office has a YouTube channel showing 10 videos of surveillance footage that allegedly conflict with police reports. The police officers worked in the Mission and Southern stations, KALW’s The Informant blog reported.

The department pushed back a few weeks after the initial allegations, and then-interim Police Chief Jeff Godowns responded in a press conference.

“Every time Jeff Adachi decides to have a press conference and he screams that the sky is falling, I’m going to call you in this room and we’re going to push back every time. If there’s allegations of misconduct, we’ll look at them…but in this case, every single time there’s a videotape, they claim the SFPD is not conducting investigations correctly, and that we’re being painted with this broad brush of there’s rampant misconduct, and that’s just not the case.”

Listen to that press conference here.

KQED’s News Fix has followed the video scandal since the news broke last year. Follow our complete coverage as it unfolds.

WSJ: Dept. of Justice to Investigate SFPD 23 January,2012

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