Two San Francisco police officers have been fired — one for excessive force and unlawful arrest of a witness and the other for accessing confidential information about a citizen — though the cases remain shrouded in secrecy because of police privacy laws.
The latest disciplinary actions were disclosed in a recent Police Commission report that covers the period from July through September.
In a case from 2009, one officer was terminated after violating a department general order dealing with the rights of witnesses to observe, ask about or film a police detention or arrest. The officer also was found to have used excessive force and unlawfully arrested the witness, and was described in the report as making “callous and alarming comments” to a civilian.
A 2008 case resulted in an officer being fired for unauthorized use of the CLETS database system, which police use to look up a citizen’s criminal or vehicle history.
Details about the cases, including the officers’ names, were not made public because of a 2006 California Supreme Court decision that prevents information about police officers’ disciplinary actions from being released. In San Francisco, disciplinary hearings before the commission are closed to the public.
The commission’s report notes that several other officers were disciplined for various reasons.
One officer, charged last year, was suspended for 90 days for using steroids. The officer also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge involving a controlled substance.
Another officer retired before his 2011 case for “inappropriate solicitation of a student” and “inappropriate use of department resources to further his personal relationships” could be heard.
A third officer was suspended for 10 days for attempting to recall a citation, misusing sick time and “setting a poor example for subordinates.”
Another officer was put on the department equivalent of probation for sexual harassment, retaliating against a civilian witness and divulging confidential information.
The commission’s backlog of disciplinary cases has shrunk from about 70 in 2008 to 16 at present, according to commission secretary Lt. Tim Falvey.
The backlog in police disciplinary cases is shrinking.
2008: 70 cases*
August 2009: 45 cases
October 2011: 16 cases
* Approximate number