Police withdraw from controversial FBI anti-terrorism task force

The San Francisco Police Department has suspended its nearly decade-long cooperation with the FBI’s anti-terrorism task force, the department announced Wednesday night after months of negotiations with civil liberty groups.

“It is the right decision at this point that we need to cease Joint Terrorism Task Force participation,” said Police Commission President Julius Turman after he and the commission were notified Wednesday just before the meeting began.

The announcement comes after civil liberties groups raised alarms that such cooperation under a Donald Trump administration was troublesome since the president has publicly stated a disregard for constitutional protections.

While SFPD brass noted the department’s decision to pull out of the JTTF would have occurred no matter who was president, others framed the move as resistance to the Trump administration.

“I’m proud of San Francisco,” said former ACLU lawyer John Crew, who explicitly called the move an act of resistance.

The department’s participation in the Joint Terrorism Task Force was inaugurated in 2007, but because of worries over abuses, The City passed a 2012 law barring liaison officers from participating in certain investigations.

FBI officers are not barred from questioning people based on tips or simply suspicion, instead of the higher bar of reasonable suspicion.

Despite this oversight, which also included annual reports and department oversight, SFPD did not always live up to the letter or spirit of the law.

Because of these issues, civil liberty groups had been working with the department and the FBI in order to find a new way forward in regard to cooperation in anti terrorism efforts. Those efforts had come to naught by Trump’s inauguration.

While most present commended the move, and some explicitly said the department should not ever rejoin the JTTF, Commissioner Sonia Melara stated that she wanted to make sure The City remains safe.

“What are we going to do moving forward?” she asked. “San Francisco is a target city.”
Deputy Chief Tim Redmond said the department remains committed to keeping The City safe, but also must keep in mind the rights of its citizens.

Read more criminal justice news on the Crime Ink page in print. Follow us on Twitter: @sfcrimeink

Jonah Owen Lamb
Published by
Jonah Owen Lamb

Recent Posts

A’s open final home series of 2018 against Twins

By Alex Hall Special to S.F. Examiner AKLAND — The Oakland Athletics have enjoyed an incredible 2018 season, with 92…

3 hours ago

Shooting victim drives himself to SFGH

A victim with a gunshot wound drove himself to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital’s front door Friday afternoon shortly after…

3 hours ago

Five things to watch: San Francisco 49ers travel to Kansas City

By C.J. Peterson Special to S.F. Examiner In another tough road test, the San Francisco 49ers will be tasked with…

3 hours ago

Benicia man arrested, linked to rapes in six Northern California counties

A Benicia man who worked for 25 years at the University of California, Berkeley was arrested Thursday in Berkeley on…

4 hours ago

City asks court to validate parcel tax funding teacher salaries, preempt legal challenges

The San Francisco City Attorney’s office filed a preemptive lawsuit Friday asking the court to validate the passage of Proposition…

5 hours ago

Reuben Foster’s return is chant-worthy for San Francisco 49ers

SANTA CLARA -- As he walked into various team meetings throughout this week -- full-squad, defense, special teams -- San Francisco…

6 hours ago