McHenry County Sheriff's Deputies have been mislabeling Hispanics as white, according to a lawsuit that also accuses deputies of targeting Hispanics and covering up the practice, according to a story in the Tribune Monday.

A Tribune analysis found that more than 1,000 other people likely were also mislabeled. Police are supposed to accurately log races of drivers they stop so the state can monitor whether departments may be targeting minorities. Mislabeling them could hide racial profiling.

In examining department, state and court data from 2004 through 2009, the Tribune's investigation indicated:

•The problem grew worse each year. By 2009, the statistical analysis showed, 1 in 3 Hispanics cited by deputies likely were mislabeled as white or not included in department data reported to the state.

•If mislabeling and underreporting are taken into account, the department's official rate of minority stops would have towered over its Chicago-area peers rather than appearing average.

•Department brass repeatedly missed warning signs of potential problems, even after a deputy complained that some peers targeted Hispanics.

Civil rights advocates suspect mislabeling is more than coincidence.

"It raises a very hard question whether officers are trying to avoid accountability," said Adam Schwartz, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union.