Former District Attorney candidate Nancy Tung argued she could help give a voice to the Chinese community on the Police Commission. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Supervisors reject mayoral nominees for Police Commission

Board seeks criminal justice leaders for empty seats amid George Floyd fallout

Mayor London Breed’s nominees for the Police Commission failed to obtain the votes needed Tuesday to serve on the oversight board after critics questioned whether they were the right candidates to drive police reform in San Francisco.

While attorney Geoffrey Gordon-Creed dropped out of the running before the Board of Supervisors could formally reject him, the board shot down the nomination of prosecutor Nancy Tung with a 10-1 vote, citing concerns about her positions on hot-button issues.

“It is imperative that we have people on our Police Commission that understand the need for aggressive police reform,” said Supervisor Shamann Walton. “This is not a time when we need people on the Police Commission that are not about ensuring systemic change.”

The decision came after the Rules Committee recommended with a 2-1 vote last week that the full board reject the nominees and instead approve strong reformers in light of the killing of George Floyd, which has prompted nationwide protests against police brutality.

Critics at the committee hearing questioned whether Gordon-Creed, a former deputy city attorney who has worked in private practice since the early 1990s, had the right experience to serve on a board that sets police policy and disciplines officers.

Tung, who ran for district attorney last November, faced criticism for supporting arming officers with stun guns and stating that the officers who shot and killed Mario Woods and Jessica Williams in two high-profile cases should not be fired or charged.

Mayor London Breed has nominated attorney Geoffrey Gordon-Creed (left) and Alameda County prosecutor Nancy Tung (right) to serve on the Police Commission. (Courtesy photo and Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner))
Mayor London Breed has nominated attorney Geoffrey Gordon-Creed (left) and Alameda County prosecutor Nancy Tung (right) to serve on the Police Commission. (Courtesy photo and Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner))

She reversed her position on Tasers last week, citing a lack of trust between police and the community.

Andy Lynch, a spokesperson for Breed, said the decision Tuesday was only the latest example of the supervisors “playing politics with important city commissions.” He noted that Breed supports defunding the San Francisco Police Department and investing in the black community.

“The mayor has spent her career leading on the issue of police reform,” Lynch said. “The board needs to stop holding critical commission seats vacant when we have real, important work to do.”

Tung released a two-page statement after the vote standing behind her record as “someone who is independent, fair and willing to challenge authority to do what is right.”

She defended her positions on several issues including the Woods and Williams shootings and said that the officers in those cases were not found to have violated police policy or the law.

“While it is easy to say that a police officer should have been fired or criminally prosecuted, the reality—as it often is—is more complicated,” Tung said. “The solution is to change department policy and the law instead of applying an unconstitutional standard to these cases.”

Gordon-Creed withdrew his name from consideration shortly before the vote Tuesday in a letter to Breed, saying he lacked the votes needed to be confirmed.

“I appreciate your confidence in my background and ability to serve the commission,” Gordon-Creed wrote. “I was looking forward to serving on the Police Commission and would like to have assisted the SFPD in its efforts to become a national model for good policing. I will continue my efforts in other ways.”

Only Supervisor Catherine Stefani voted to support Tung, arguing that the board should have deferred to Breed. She also supported Gordon-Creed at the Rules Committee.

“Our charter gives the mayor the responsibility to nominate four members for the Police Commission,” Stefani said. “I really do believe that San Francisco is very fortunate to have a mayor who is incredibly knowledgeable about law enforcement.”

Tung had argued she would be a voice for the Chinese community on the Police Commission. Before the vote, the supervisors urged Breed to appoint another Chinese nominee with experience as a criminal justice leader.

“We deserve better,” said Board of Supervisors President Norman Yee. “We should not settle for nominations just based on their race alone.”

This story has been updated to include additional comment.

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

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