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Voters could increase powers of SF’s police oversight agency

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San Francisco voters will have the chance in November to increase the powers and independence of The City’s police oversight agency with Proposition G.

As it stands, the nearly four-decade-old Office of Citizen Complaints investigates citizen complaints of police misconduct, and was given the mandate by voters last June to also investigate all fatal police shootings.

Prop. G will not only expand the powers of the OCC, but will also change the body’s name to the Department of Police Accountability.

“This is a continuation of the work we have been doing, pulling the OCC out of the Police Department’s budget so it can stand independent and strong on its own,” said Supervisor Malia Cohen, who authored the measure.

The name change, she explained, will give citizens a better idea of what the agency is tasked to do.

The measure also gives the agency auditing powers over the Police Department and removes it from the SFPD’s budget.

“It has been historically and woefully underfunded,” Cohen said of the agency, the independence of which also intends to alter negative public perceptions.

The department, headed since 2007 by Joyce Hicks, has roughly 17 investigators who look into reported police misconduct and recommend discipline to the Police Commission.

Earlier this year, the OCC was already given more responsibility when voters passed a measure in June tasking the body with investigating all fatal office shootings. The body was also given increased funding to pay for more staff and technical tools such as transcription aids to increase the speed of investigations.

The measure is just one of many efforts by officials to transform policing and police oversight in San Francisco.

In the last several years, The City has been racked by a series of police scandals, from racist text messages and convictions for illegal searches, to a number of high profile police shootings. All of this helped prompt the launch of a federal police review and a damning report from a three-judge panel on the Police Department’s culture and practice around race, oversight and transparency.

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