San Francisco Police Commission Meeting 10/7/2020 Summary

The San Francisco Police Commission oversees the policy, top leadership and aspects of budget decisions of the San Francisco Police Department. The Board of Supervisors, which appoints some of the commissioners, ultimately controls the budget of the department. I live tweet meetings at #sfpolicecommission, along with a few other dedicated watchdogs. Below is a high-level summary of the most recent meeting. Any factual mistakes are my own.

10/7/2020 Meeting Documents 

Small Steps Over Fundamental Divides

Overall, this was a relatively light and low-impact meeting, though it's nice to see Commissioner Brookter continuing to work behind the scenes to advance Black Lives Matter messaging in the district stations. This may seem like a small thing to some, but keep in mind that there is persistent push back from random white and other privileged people in this city on even the most basic efforts to embrace the idea that Black lives matter (e.g., see the third line on the last page of this report). It's constant toxic noise, and it's the fundamental divide that plagues this (and all) policing force. So shoutout to Commissioner Brookter.

Policing Strategy In a Void

Gun violence continues to plague large parts of San Francisco, particularly the Bayview, Mission and Tenderloin station areas, which is especially remarkable given that the SFPD budget is as large as ever, and we're all supposed to be on partial shelter-in-place right now thanks to COVID-19. Yet, there continues to be no plan or culture of wanting to innovate at SFPD to stop the gun violence. Instead, the structure of the Police Commission meetings is to essentially pull up a chair and listen to story time from the chief for the first half hour or so. Now, I love a good story as much as anyone, but it sure would be nice if there were some hard-hitting demands and systems that forced leaders at the SFPD to wake up every morning, hungry to research and try new strategies to stop gun violence and reinvest in communities--hint, it may not involve a whole lot of traditional policing or police at all, based on what community members have been saying at separate violence prevention Zoom meetings with the Department of Public Health. Similarly, October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month, but the Chief made no mention of any statistics or strategies associated with reducing domestic violence, just that City Hall has been lit purple.

Community Policing Strategic Plan and General Order

The main part of the meeting was consumed with reviewing the new Community Policing strategic plan and draft General Order (1.08), which was approved and sent on to the SF Police Officers Association for a, likely, very long review process ("Meet and Confer"). The community policing documents are items on the DOJ's 2016 SFPD reform list. The commissioners, staff and participants all agreed that the process to develop these Community Policing documents was unusually excellent, and should be replicated for every SFPD process going forward. However, there was also a notable lack of discussion of expectations of specific expected outcomes, aka, how the police commission will know whether the strategy is effective (not unlike the above issue with lack of strategy on gun violence). Finally, I feel like I'm screaming into a void, but why is community policing not all policing? Why do officers have to get special permission to get to know the communities they ostensibly serve?

Body Worn Camera General Order

The final (publicly discussed) item of the night was the return of an updated General Order (10.11) on Body Worn Cameras after a two-year meet and confer process with the SF Police Officers Association. The commission voted unanimously to approve the new policy, but there was a lot of frustration from both the commissioners and public commenters on the inadequacy of the amendments--they're not up to national best practices--and the extraordinary amount of time it took for the Department of Human Resources to conduct the meet and confer process. The commissioners are attempting to shed some sunlight on the SF Police Officers Association role in the delay by publishing their letters to the commission soon, in case anyone wants some more receipts on the exact level of brokenness of the system.

Before you go, take action! Volunteer for/donate to Wealth and Disparities In The Black Community, founded and led by Phelicia Jones. WDBC has been working on police reform and justice for victims of police violence since the SFPD murdered Mario Woods back in 2015.

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