San Francisco Police Use Faulty Equipment


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KCBS in San Francisco reported on a case of their local police officers not testing their equipment per official procedure before relying on them to make judgements in the field. The devices in question are their breathalyzers which they employ in alcohol related incidents where they need to gage how much alcohol an individual has ingested.

In many cases, breathalyzers are the only thing standing between a motorists freedom and a jail cell. Apparently the devices the San Francisco Police Department uses are supposed to be calibrated against a standard every ten days. The results are recorded in a log book and used to verify accuracy if ever called into question. If they are like 100% of other test devices being used in various markets, deviations from the standard prompts users to either have them re-calibrated or discontinue use.

An Attorney, Peter Fitzpatrick discovered the discrepancy while defending a client last year. Apparently the preliminary findings are that this misuse of the devices goes back at least a decade. San Francisco District Attorney, George Gascon commented on the discovery and was of the opinion that it wasn't a malicious act by officers, but rather an act of laziness.

Here's KCBS's video coverage on the neglect:

The San Francisco public defenders office requests that anyone who feels they have been a victim of these faulty devices to contact their office. The phone number is (415) 553-1081. This is a serious problem especially if you have been convicted of DWI based on readings from these devices. Obviously, the public defenders office isn't going to hear your complaint if you were grossly over the limit, but for some there will be cause for the cases to be reopened.

This is a serious offense by law enforcement, if you are not qualified to use a piece of equipment, or misuse it, you shouldn't be allowed to handle it. This is going to cost tax payers in the San Francisco area a lot of money. I hope there is some follow-up on this ten year long case of neglect. Shameful!