Bumpy transition in police oversight efforts

Two new San Francisco police oversight efforts are having birthing pains over how evidence will be shared after officers shoot and injure someone.

The District Attorney’s Office and the Office of Citizen Complaints, which will be christened anew as the Department of Police Accountability in 2017, were both given expanded powers by voters to investigate such incidents this year.

The District Attorney’s Office will now head up criminal investigations into police shootings, but the details of how that will work alongside the Police Department’s administrative investigation still have to be worked out.

Police formerly led all such investigations, and Acting Chief Toney Chaplin said Wednesday night that his department already cooperates with the OCC on such matters.

“We’ve turned over everything that [OCC] Director [Joyce] Hicks and the office has asked for,” said Chaplin. “At some point she’s going to have to sit down with the DA.”

In the meantime, one of the OCC’s new mandates is to investigate all police shootings, with a focus on officer wrongdoing. But Hicks, the body’s director, said her office has yet to sit down with the District Attorney’s Office to work out how evidence will be shared while both bodies conduct their investigations.

“We do not have a document protocol with the District Attorney’s Office,” said Hicks. “We do have questions, and they have not been answered.”

The District Attorney’s Office is working on finalizing the memorandum of understanding with the Police Department first, and then will set out a plan to build a relationship with the OCC, according to Max Szabo, a spokesperson for the District Attorney’s Office. That MOU will inform what can be shared with the OCC.

“As soon as the MOU that governs this new criminal investigative process is complete we’ll have a clearer picture of how our work can support OCC’s administrative investigations,” said Szabo.

The OCC has been headed since 2007 by Hicks, and has roughly 24 investigators who look into reported police misconduct and report to the Police Commission.

The OCC was given more powers in June when voters passed a measure tasking the body with investigating all fatal officer shootings.

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