San Francisco Police Commission Meetings: October 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 October's meetings. Any factual mistakes are my own.

10/6/2021 Meeting Documents 

10/13/2021 Meeting Documents 

10/20/2021 Meeting Documents 


Moving away from the horse race

I took a pause on writing these summaries over the last month because I was concerned that I'd begun to err on the side of reporting the political horse race instead of what's actually important. (Also: I've been busy.) Politics matter, of course; the people appointed to the Police Commission and Board of Supervisors decide if and how fast change happens. But I'm not here to stan for anyone's political team or career. So, while there may be occasional stand alone meetings that have significant discussions that merit a focused summary, I'm going to take my own advice to the police department and make sure I have my eyes on the macro trends in these summaries, not the week-to-week signals. If you want the meeting blow by blows, read the #sfpolicecommission threads on Twitter.

October: Trends of Note

Chief Scott of SFPD and Director Henderson of the Department of Police Accountability are charged with giving trend reports on their work each week. The reports have become a bit more meaningful under President Cohen's persistent leadership, but the bar unfortunately remains low (not President Cohen's fault). There is no culture in SFPD or Department of Police Accountability of asking why things are happening and what has worked to change these trajectories, that rises above the anecdote and received wisdom. Why is gun violence spiking in the Mission (also, why are there more red flag officer behaviors in that district compared to most?)? Why didn't the SFPD catch the one man who committed 30 anti-Asian hate crimes well before he hit, say, five? Why were homicides down in 2019 and up now? If you don't know, that's ok, SFPD! Admit that you don't, and ask for help. Demonstrate that you want to know.

October: Tree View

We saw small rays of sunshine on a few reform topics in October. I don't mean that anything substantially changed on the ground, but Commissioners pressed deep into some critical reform efforts, clearing out what might or might not be a lot of smoke and mirrors at SFPD, and demanding more use out of the Department of Police Accountability. See: Department of Justice reform recommendation implementation; The SFPD Bias Dashboard (one of the reform recommendations); basic communication between the SFPD and the Department of Police Accountability on discipline matters; moving away from endless, performative audits at the Department of Police Accountability, to actionable data; and rebuilding community trust by, for example, not lying in public documents.

October: Forest View

The question remains: is the work of SFPD and the Department of Police Accountability translating to safer day-to-day life for Black San Franciscans, and all San Franciscans? I'm especially curious about what became of all the community recommendations that were supposed to be on the agenda every quarter. Is that list of potential reforms dead? Why?

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.

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