San Francisco Police Commission Meeting 7/14/2021 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.

7/14/2021 Meeting Documents 

Putting crime statistics in perspective

It's no secret that police departments around the country, including the SFPD, are making a big push to rebuild public support for their work. Here in San Francisco, there's a growing narrative in the media about increasing crime in the city. You can read the actual crime trends here and judge for yourself whether this is true or not. Everyone is also welcome to think critically about whether SFPD's policing has truly had an impact on the these trends. As President Cohen asked on Wednesday evening, what's correlation and what's causation? Is nuance dead?

Many reports, few consequences

If your answer to the question above was, well, why invest further into a department that sidesteps deep reform, then the SFPD Q1 2021 Early Intervention System presentation and the SF Department of Police Accountability 2020 annual report will make you sigh (wearily). I'll let the tweets below speak for themselves, except to say that there's been a number of reports recently, including these, that suggest that there is something particularly broken in the culture of the SFPD Mission station. This is no doubt very old news to a lot of people, but maybe something worth investigating at the Police Commission at some point?

The sad conclusion of the trial of Officer Joel Babbs

So, if biased and/or violent officers don't get disciplined, who does? The disciplinary trial of Officer Joel Babbs, who was a whistleblower against SFPD back in 2017 and a rare Black officer on the force, concluded in closed session last night. Here is more about his back story. Last night, the Police Commission sustained charges of sexual harassment and battery, spreading false rumors in the workplace and false statements of administrative interview. They did not sustain the charge of retaliation. 

While I do not personally feel comfortable saying whether Babbs is guilty of the above charges without further insight into the specific evidence, it nonetheless raises a lot of eyebrows to see him--and only him--kicked off the force. Moreover, it raises more than eyebrows to see that the allegations he made against his fellow officers at SFPD for anti-black bias, which have been sustained by the SF Department of Human Resources back in 2018, to still be sitting around, waiting for someone to investigate and take action. There remains an enormous disconnect between Chief Scott's professions of dedication to reform and action on the ground at SFPD. That's the real narrative at play with crime in San Francisco, with a whole lot of causation to those crime trends. And that's the one story we don't want to hear about as a city.

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

*There was a meeting on July 7, 2021, but I wasn't able to attend.