San Francisco Police Commission Meeting 1/7/2021 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.
1/7/2021 Meeting Documents
New Energy & Momentum
Damali Taylor, the president of the Police Commission, resigned from the body entirely during the holiday break, leaving the commission without a president or vice president, but a plan for an election. Within five minutes of this first meeting of the year, Malia Cohen and Cindy Elias were elected unanimously to fill the roles and President Cohen proceeded to whip the body into shape. The open component of the meeting was wrapped up by 7:30 pm, and staff was told that their presentations would be brief so that commissioners would have ample time for discussion. Both Chief Scott and some of the commissioners also talked openly about having pro-active goals for 2021. Some of the goals were promising, and others were business as usual. Will we hear more about evidence-based strategy in 2021? Accountability?
Stop & Search Policy Updated
The meat of last night's commission meeting was the unanimous passage of two updated Department General Orders, including DGO 5.03, "Investigative Detentions" (aka, Stop & Search) and Department General Order 11.11, "Intervention and Resource Program." A number of local legal experts called in to express support for the update of the search policy; the update is one of the recommendations of the DOJ reform program. It remains to be seen, however, whether the new policy finally reduces the stark racial disparity in searches, which has remained unchanged over the last four years of the lengthy reform process. The other policy update, DGO 11.11, is supposed to help officers with addiction issues get help. The update was mostly about improved tracking systems.
Bringing Complaints and Discipline Further Forward
In addition to the policy updates, the commission heard updates on complaints about SFPD officers to the Department of Police Accountability and the outcome of internal discipline cases for 2020 Q3 and Q4. Commissioner Hamasaki clarified that these discipline files will now be available to other police agencies during their hiring processes, which was not the case before. This is the smallest step forward towards removing violent officers from policing--assuming other police forces share the same values--but it is a step. That said, because of the twisted way that policing is codified in our city's charter and state law, it is still apparently possible for an officer to point a gun at a young child and be found not at fault. So, while 2021 is off to a hopeful start at the police commission, let us not underestimate the toxic roots that need to be extracted before things really change for the better. Deep hugs and so much more to that young kid, whose life will never be the same.
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.