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Federal oversight of SFPD to be extended

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(Jessica Christian/2016 S.F. Examiner)

Despite fears that Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department will pull back on police reform efforts in San Francisco and across the nation, the DOJ has announced it will extend its oversight of San Francisco Police Department’s collaborative reforms.

Last week, Community Oriented Policing Service of the federal Department of Justice announced they will extend its oversight of the ongoing reforms at the San Francisco Police Department through June.

“At Chief William Scott’s request, the COPS Office will extend the implementation and monitoring phase of the CRI-TA process with the City of San Francisco,” reads a statement from the COPS Office. “The formal monitoring period, which began in October of 2016, will be extended to June 30, 2017. We look forward to our continued work with the San Francisco Police Department and helping to advance 21st century policing throughout the entire law enforcement field.”

The COPS Office began its collaborative review of the troubled Police Department in early 2016, before former Chief Greg Suhr resigned following a fatal police shooting, and released its assessment last fall, which contained a long list of recommended reforms.

Since then the department has been making sure that every recommendation is put into place, as Mayor Ed Lee said would happen in October 2016 at the release of the COPS report on the SFPD.

The department has been in turmoil for the past several years with a number of scandals shaking the organization, and was pressured by the public to increase its transparency and reform how it polices minority communities.

Last May, Suhr resigned after a third fatal police shooting in less than six months, all of which angered members of the public following the release of a video of the killing of Mario Woods in December 2015.

Meanwhile, two separate bigoted text message scandals came to light, and it was discovered that police were sending such messages to one another. Even before those revelations, a group of officers were convicted for illegally searching residential hotels and, in the case of three other officers, robbing drug dealers of their money and possessions.

All of these scandals and killings, as well as a vocal group of activists, pushed local politicians to impose reforms inside the department, which culminated in the naming of a new police chief in order to put into place the reform package.

In January, the mayor appointed Scott, and the Police Commission implemented a new use-of-force policy that bars shooting at moving cars and using the controversial carotid hold. In the meantime the department has almost completely equipped its officers with body-worn cameras, and completed a year of improved data collection on the use of force, including reporting whenever an officer pulls his or her gun.


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