Mayor London Breed’s two appointments to the Police Commission were approved Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors, despite questions over whether they would support re-entering an agreement with a federal terrorism task force.
Dion-Jay Brookter, who serves as the deputy director of Young Community Developers, Inc., and Damali Taylor, a former federal prosecutor and practicing attorney, have joined the seven-member commission at a time of police reform, following controverisial police shootings and scandals over racists texts.
Taylor’s appointment was approved in a 10-1 vote, with Supervisor Sandra Fewer in opposition. Brookter was approved unanimously.
Breed had faced some criticism that she did not appoint a Chinese American to serve on the commission.
Fewer said she interviewed both appointees about representing the Chinese community and “I feel like [Taylor’s] answers did not meet the standard to serve my community.”
But Taylor said, “I have made concerted and real efforts to reach out to many members of the Chinese American community.”
The tensest moment of the hearing came when Supervisor Jane Kim questioned the appointees over whether they would support The City rejoining the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. The City let the 10-year agreement expire last year amid concerns about surveillance of people of color without probable cause.
The appointees initial answers seemed evasive or equivocal to some board members, giving them pause. But ultimately, they seemingly came out against re-entering such an agreement.
“I don’t think that I can nor should I pre-judge without having any of the facts before me,” Taylor said, when pressed to take a definitive position. “The City pulled out of the [JTTF] MOU and did so thoughtfully.”
Brookter said he would review any proposal to rejoin “with communities to see if that is the route in which we wanted to go.”
When pressed by Kim, both said they would not support any agreement with the JTTF that included a provision that would permit using local resources for surveillance of residents based on racial or religious affiliation without probable clause.
Supervisor Norman Yee said the appointees “were two committed people, two people that do care about social justice” and that they won’t “tiptoe” around reform.
He added that he wished they responded initially more directly and forcefully to Kim’s inquiry, but they “eventually came around to answer it.”
Brookter serves as the deputy director of Young Community Developers, Inc., a group that connects those in the southeastern neighborhoods to employment and education. He grew up in Fresno and moved to San Francisco in 2009.
Taylor, who grew up in New York, worked for six years as a federal prosecutor at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of California and as an assistant District Attorney in San Francisco between November 2009 and April 2011. She is currently a partner with the O’Melveny law firm.
Supervisor Malia Cohen said “we do need African American representation” and the appointees “will be able to build bridges with every member and every sector of this community.”
Following the vote, Breed said in a statement that the approved appointments “will bring important perspectives to the Commission, rooted in their extensive experience with San Francisco’s diverse communities, as they work to strengthen our Police Department and institute important reforms.”