Joe Marshall advances toward reappointment to Police Commission

Despite a heated exchange with Board of Supervisors President Malia Cohen, a former member of the San Francisco Police Commission moved closer Monday to reclaiming a seat on the oversight body.

The Board of Supervisors Rules Committee sent the nomination of Joe Marshall to the full board for a vote without a recommendation on Tuesday, after Cohen grilled Marshall for the “blurry line of support” he received from the San Francisco Police Officers Association as a police commissioner of 14 years.

“I can’t help it if people think that I’m fair,” Marshall said in response. “I don’t have an axe to grind against anybody. If I did, that’s the worst thing. The POA has its rights. The citizens have their rights. When it comes to making policy, 95 percent of that policy is agreed upon before it gets to us.”

Critics argue that the union has stalled police reform through litigation and labor negotiations, but Marshall disputed that at the hearing. Cohen also noted that Marshall sided with the union in his support for the carotid restraint, which the commission banned officers from using in December 2016.

Marshall has not been a police commissioner since the Board of Supervisors voted 6-5 against his reappointment in May as well as that of former commissioner Sonia Melara. At the time, Supervisor Sandra Fewer argued that the new mayor should have a say in the decision.

On Sunday, a spokesperson for London Breed told the San Francisco Examiner that the mayor-elect supports Marshall.

But Cohen was still critical of Marshall on Monday.

“The concern is that the POA is supporting Dr. Marshall because there is a perception that he preserves employment rights and rarely if ever vote[s] to terminate officers in violation,” Cohen told the Examiner after the hearing. “The fact that he can’t articulate the problematic nature of an organization that has lost a lot of credibility is troublesome.”

Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez contributed to this report.

Michael Barba
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Michael Barba

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