San Francisco Police Commission Meeting 6/16/2021 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.

6/16/2021 Meeting Documents 

Diverging Interests on the Commission

The June 9th Police Commission meeting, which featured a variety of community and peer voices offering heartfelt ideas for eliminating the unchanged racial bias in SFPD policing, was a breath of fresh air. So it was a shock for Commissioner Brookter to open the June 16th meeting with a pointed tone policing of those community voices. His surprising call out was a slap in the face to the many community members and peers who came forward with free ideas, who didn't get paid for the work they did preparing their presentations or for sitting through the long meeting in order to get a chance to speak, and, in some cases, who have personally experienced the trauma of racial bias in SFPD's culture. As a result, one has to wonder where Commissioner Brookter's allegiances lie. Why is he on the Commission? 

In the time I've been watching these meetings, Brookter has been an inscrutable member, careful never to critique the SFPD staff, offering regular compliments and championing things like Black Lives Matter posters in district stations. I have no beef with posters (look how much backlash such a simple gesture received), but one wishes that Commissioner Brookter was also a voice that continuously spoke up for deeper reforms, like many of his colleagues. Or at the very least, didn't belittle the community voices who came forward the previous week in the face of past and potential additional retaliation to speak their truth. 

The Commission needs to be able to hear the hard truths, and not flinch, Mr. Brookter.

Reform Program vs. Culture

We've all heard the phrase, culture eats strategy for breakfast. The same, unfortunately, applies to policy, which is readily apparent in the frequency that SFPD officers choose not to turn on their policy-mandated bodyworn cameras. Or the lagging effort with the Department of Justice's 272 reform recommendations. The organizational dynamic is also deeply intertwined with the assumptions behind the staffing recommendation resolution. What is the work? If the culture was different, how much time would service calls take, and how different would the outcome be? If the culture is broken, though, only the strictest enforcement of policy will deter the racist outcomes of SFPD policing.

Trial of Officer Joel Babbs

Speaking of culture versus policy, the discipline case of Officer Joel Babbs was an absolutely riveting look into a process that normally happens in closed session. I'll let the tweets speak for themselves.

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.

Previous SF Police Commission Meeting