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Supes vote down Police Commission reappointments in ‘outrageous’ move

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The Board of Supervisors voted 6-5 to block the reappointment of Sonia Melara and Joe Marshall to the Police Commission. (Examiner file photo)

The Police Commission will remain without enough members to hold a meeting after the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday shot down the reappointment of two commissioners by Mayor Mark Farrell.

The Board of Supervisors voted 6-5 against the reappointment of Sonia Melara and Joe Marshall to the Police Commission, which is already down two members and cannot meet following the resignations of Bill Ong Hing and Julius Turman.

The decision comes at a turbulent time when San Francisco is about to vote on a new mayor and the Police Commission may soon have to search for a new police chief with Bill Scott reportedly on the shortlist to lead the Los Angeles police.

“I believe that it is imperative that we pause and allow the new mayor who will be sworn in July to weigh in on these critical decisions,” said Supervisor Sandra Fewer. “The Police Commission is one of the most powerful commissions in San Francisco and we need to ensure that the decisions regarding appointments to this body are made with careful thought and attention.”

Fewer joined supervisors Malia Cohen, Jane Kim, Aaron Peskin, Hillary Ronen and Norman Yee in voting against the reappointments.

Farrell called the decision “outrageous” in a statement.

“The board has halted the critical work of overseeing implementation of police reforms,” Farrell said. “This includes institutionalizing our new use of force policies, training for Tasers, partnerships with the California Department of Justice and officer discipline cases.”

But Hing, who resigned in April, disputed that the move would hinder police reform.

“It’s a good sign for potential meaningful police reform in The City,” Hing told the San Francisco Examiner.

Hing said that Melara and Marshall were on the commission when former Police Chief Greg Suhr first asked the U.S. Department of Justice to review the department in the wake of controversial police shootings.

“They were part of the problem,” Hing said. “I don’t think that they ever asked any hard questions of the department.”

Melara said the decision means that she can no longer continue to focus on use of force within the San Francisco Police Department. Marshall headed a committee on bias in the department.

“I’m extremely concerned about where we are going to be if the chief leaves and if you don’t have a chief and then you don’t have a commission,” Melara told the Examiner. “And we’re in the middle of transitioning mayors, I’m not really sure who is driving the tank.”

Martin Halloran, president of the police union, called the move “short-sighted.”

“It demonstrates the narrow-mindedness of some members of the Board of Supervisors, especially Supervisor Malia Cohen, when you have two progressive police commissioners… who have made every effort to see that the DOJ recommendations are implemented,” Halloran told the Examiner.

The Police Commission, which has seven members, needs at least four members to meet.

The Board of Supervisors Rules Committee has yet to vote on replacements for Hing and Turman, who were appointed by the board rather than the mayor.

S.F. Examiner Staff Writer Joshua Sabatini contributed to this story

This story has been updated with additional information.

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

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