City to audit law enforcement hiring and promotion practices

In an effort to reform the way law enforcement officers are hired and promoted, San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced Thursday she has directed the city’s Department of Human Resources to audit law enforcement job examinations and hiring practices.

Under the initiative, the human resources department will work with the Police Department and the Department of Police Accountability to identify and screen for indicators of bias, improve training systems, improve data sharing across city departments, and strengthen the Police Department’s Early Intervention System, which identifies officers whose performance shows signs of risky behavior.

“We want our law enforcement officers to reflect the best of our city and our values. While most do, we can improve how we are identifying the qualities that we want as well as those we know we don’t,” Breed said in a statement.

“I thank the Department of Human Resources for being a partner to reduce the influence of implicit and explicit bias, which will strengthen the relationships between law enforcement and our communities and ultimately save lives,” she said.

According to the mayor, a pending exam for police sergeant will be canceled and rescheduled, as well as continuous entry-level officer and sheriff’s deputy exams, until after the audit is done and any needed changes have been put in place.

In the meantime, however, a police captain exam scheduled for July and any other promotions within the Police Department will include an assessment of the job’s critical principles in the final selection process.

Breed’s initiative comes in the face of nationwide protests demanding police accountability and after she announced last week several extensive reforms like plans to demilitarize police and redirect funds to the city’s African American community. The new initiative also aims to build on ongoing work being done to implement change within SFPD as outlined in the 272 reform recommendations provided by the U.S. Department of Justice back in 2016 and standards contained in former President Barack Obama’s 2015 Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

“The San Francisco Police Department stands for safety with respect for all, and there should be no place in law enforcement in our city for candidates who fall short of our values,” Police Chief Bill Scott said.

“Recruitment and hiring are critical elements in SFPD’s groundbreaking, voluntary, department-wide Collaborative Reform Initiative. Although recent CRI reforms are already making measurable strides to reduce uses of force and eliminate bias, Mayor Breed’s bold initiative will speed our progress and help us to fulfill CRI’s promise to make the San Francisco Police Department a national model in 21st Century Policing,” Scott said.

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