San Francisco Police Commission Meeting 9/15/2021 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.

9/15/2021 Meeting Documents 

Epic Professional Parenting

My heart continues to go out to President Cohen during these meetings. She had a baby right after starting on the Police Commission and has been attending these meetings through the early months of getting used to being a parent, often times with a baby on her lap. That's hard enough. On top of that, though, she basically has to parent the rest of the commissioners and the department staff in these meetings to help them succeed and/or accomplish the basic work of the organizations. Two other commissioners do substantial, high impact work outside of these meetings, but there are another pair who appear to spend any additional time on ceremonial events and "taking a look" at specific neighborhoods. They do not seem to read the documents presented at these meetings ahead of time.

Do those latter two commissioners notice how much President Cohen is pulling them through these meetings? I'm sure she does; it sounds incredibly tiring. These are not a low stakes positions. The way these folks show up has a direct impact on whether people live or die, feel welcome and safe in this city or carry the disproportionate burden of scrutiny in this city. Aim higher.

The Low, Low Bar

Last Wednesday was the first time that SFPD's Internal Affairs division, which is responsible for investigating and disciplining officers suspected of wrong-doing within SFPD, was compelled to give a semi-transparent report on what it's been doing for the last 10 years. People were excited. Vice President Elias has been working for a long time on making this report happen. It makes me want to both thank her, and put my head down on my desk in despair. The bar is so incredibly low. But yes, it's a start. I certainly have many questions based on what was in that report last week; for starters, what's "exceptional clearance" and why does SFPD use it used so often to excuse infractions? Doesn't seem that exceptional.

Looking forward, I sincerely hope that the Police Commission intervenes before SFPD crystallizes the official use of its much-anticipated Bias Dashboard, which is supposed to track instances of suspected and actual racial and other bias within SFPD. Surely it's glaringly obvious that, if SFPD controls that dashboard, it's going to be about as useful as the old Internal Affair report. Too much is at stake not to raise the bar.

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