San Francisco Police Commission Meeting 11/4/2020 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.

11/4/2020 Meeting Documents 

Public Commenters Doing the Work of the Commissioners

I keep hoping I'll have good news to post here, but I don't. Last night's police commission meeting advanced no significant reforms, and the commissioners asked few pro-active high-impact questions, calendared nothing to discuss and generally demanded nothing different from the SFPD. In fact, the hardest hitting questions came from two Black women who called in for public comment. I know it was an odd night for everyone. The election results were coming in, Trump supporters were mobbing election counting facilities, etc. I get it. But I still don't understand why these (extremely intelligent and clearly interested) commissioners are on this body if they don't want to reform policing? Why else endure these meetings, particularly on a night like this, and all the outside reading and work? All kinds of applause to the two women who called in to do the work.

They shouldn't have to.

Still No Gun Violence Reduction Plan

Nothing new here. Chief Scott continues to report on increasing gun violence in specific parts of the city--the highest increase being Ingleside--and the commissioners continue not to ask for any sort of analysis as to why and how the SFPD is learning and adapting its strategy to bring those numbers down. We have now surpassed the total number of homicides for last year, much earlier in the year, in a year when most people have been sticking close to home and away from other people, and the police budget was larger than ever. But instead of diving into strategy and analysis, the commission's time is taken up with lots and lots of (much needed) paperwork on helping victims of violence after the fact, like the newly adopted Department General Order (6.19) on Victim of Violent Crime Notification. Meanwhile, public complaints about SFPD staff to the Department of Police Accountability remain up. These are not good trends, particularly taken together. Something is broken here.

Officer Involved Shooting Internal Review Yields Little Change

The Commission reviewed Q3 2020 internal reviews of times that SFPD officers discharged their firearms or had people who died in their custody. Mind you, these are cases dating back as far as 2015, so this isn't a speedy process, and unsurprisingly, SFPD found its own officers to be largely in compliance with policy. Aka, it was okay that these people died. Once again, aside from one question from Commissioner Brookter about the habitual use of Versed to subdue people having mental health crises, the only tough questions came from someone calling in with public comment, Brian Cox of the Public Defender's Office.

Residents Want Focused Results

I strive not to be all doom and gloom in these reports. Like you, I'm also looking for hopeful signs and evidence of real progress. There wasn't any last night, though, unfortunately, but we did hear a Black woman call into public comment to remind the Commission and Chief Scott what San Francisco wants and truly needs from our police force. 

If only the Commission had used these public reminders to demand progress again. I still hold out hope that they feel empowered to ask the tough questions.


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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