Board bucks Farrell, Breed, rejects reappointment of Joe Marshall to Police Commission

Joe Marshall has served on the Police Commission for 14 years, but in a move marking a new era of police reform the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday rejected his reappointment to another four-year term.

The board voted 8-3 to reject outgoing Mayor Mark Farrell’s reappointment of Marshall despite Mayor-Elect London Breed’s support for his reappointment.

Breed voted in support of Marshall along with Supervisors Ahsha Safai and Catherine Stefani.

The rejection means that Breed, who will be sworn in as mayor Wednesday, will need to appoint two new members to the Police Commission — one for the seat Marshall once served in and another seat formerly filled by Sonia Melara.

The board had previously voted 6-5 in May to reject the reappointments of both Marshall and Melara, but Farrell re-submitted their names for a second try. Melara dropped out of consideration but Marshall continued to push for his reappointment.

Farrell declined to comment on Tuesday’s vote.

Supervisor Sandra Fewer made the motion to reject Marshall’s reappointment Tuesday, saying “After watching the Rules Committee meeting yesterday I am compelled to make a motion to reject the mayor’s nomination for the reappointment.”

During that hearing, Board President Malia Cohen had a series of tense exchanges with Marshall where she called into question his willingness to stand up to the San Francisco Police Officers Association and his commitment to implementing police reform.

She also noted that Marshall sided with the union in his support for the controversial neck hold called the carotid restraint. The commission banned officers from using this hold in December 2016.

Police reform supporters had also criticized Marshall and called on the board to reject his reappointment.

Unlike other police commissioners, Melara and Marshall did not sign on to a June election ballot argument in opposition to the police union’s failed June ballot measure, which called for the arming of officers with stun guns and set policies for their use. The ballot measure, which was seen as an end-run around the commission, was opposed by many elected officials and by Police Chief Bill Scott, who called it the “antithesis” of police reform because it tied the hands of the Police Commission.

Marshall defended his record at the committee. “I can’t help it if people think that I’m fair,” Marshall said.

Joshua Sabatini
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Joshua Sabatini

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