San Francisco Police Commission Meeting 4/21/2021 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.
4/21/2021 Meeting Documents
A Lite Night
I debated whether to write a summary of last night's Police Commission meeting or not because no meaningful reform work was accomplished. The Commission welcomed a new Commissioner, Jim Byrne, and said goodbye to Commissioner DeJesus, thanking her for her 12 years of often very lonely service. The only major stand alone item on the agenda was voting on whether to give valor awards to specific nominated officers. Which did not feel timely, to say the least, even if I can understand the intention to reward good behavior in the hopes of bringing about culture change (see last week's post). No one expects every Police Commission to be a deep cleanse. The Commissioners are human and sometimes they're going to have lighter weeks.
However, last night's meeting was the final one before SFPD is supposed to have completed all (or at least almost all) of the Department of Justice's 272 recommended reform measures. Starting next month, outside auditors will begin checking whether SFPD is in "substantial compliance" with the recommendations they say they've finished. Yet, the SFPD's presentation on this critical reform work was on the Consent Agenda. President Cohen wisely doubled back and ensured there was at least some conversation on the topic, but it wasn't much.
The Commissioners are in an awkward place. Either they believe SFPD's claim that the agency is truly accomplishing these reform tasks (which appears to be the case for some of them), or they are skeptical given SFPD's history of lying about past deadlines but feel like their hands are tied until there is an independent audit. Here are Wealth & Disparities in the Black Community's questions about the report. One way the Commission could have checked whether the SFPD was really accomplishing these reform tasks was to require staff to include per capita analyses of Officer Involved Shootings, Use of Force, searches, etc, broken down by race in their monthly reports. As the Commission is well aware, the whole reason SFPD undertook this reform process back in 2016 was to eliminate the persistent racial disparity in their policing. So, if that needle isn't moving, then either these DOJ reform measures are busywork or SFPD is not getting them done. Last time I checked, the racial disparity in SFPD policing had yet to budge. But maybe the SFPD will surprise us all.
P.S. I'm including a tweet from the incredible Samuel Sinyangwe of the kind of analysis Wealth & Disparities in the Black Community has asked the Department of Police Accountability to make a routine part of their work. This type of report would also be a great way to tell if the DOJ reform measures are happening/working.
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.