The main entrance of the San Francisco Police Officers Association, pictured Aug. 31, 2016. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

City Attorney’s Office responds to SFPOA lawsuit

The San Francisco Police Commission is not required to bargain with the police union over provisions of a new use of force policy that would prohibit officers from shooting at moving vehicles, the City Attorney’s Office said Thursday in response to a union lawsuit.

SEE RELATED: SFPD union sues city, Police Commission over use of force policy

The San Francisco Police Officers Association filed an unfair labor practices lawsuit in Superior Court Tuesday seeking to block The City from unilaterally implementing the new policy, which was approved by the Police Commission Wednesday night over the objections of the union.

The City ended four months of negotiations with the union over the use of force policy in October when it declared an impasse. They were able to reach an agreement on a number of items but remained at odds over the prohibition of shooting at moving vehicles.

The lawsuit alleges The City’s declaration of an impasse and refusal to continue talks was premature and constituted an unfair labor practice.

“We’re asking a court to intervene and force the Police Commission back to the negotiating table,” union President Martin Halloran said in a statement.

However, the City Attorney’s Office on Thursday rejected the union’s argument that The City is obligated to bargain with the union on the policy.

Policy issues including under what the circumstances a police officer may use deadly force are “the exclusive prerogative of the Police Commission,” the City Attorney’s Office said.

The union’s lawsuit alleges that city negotiators made verbal agreements to allow shooting at vehicles in exceptional circumstances such as terrorist attacks where vehicles are being used as weapons, but then refused to put those agreements in writing.

The commission also reneged on an agreement to allow the use of a control hold known as the carotid restraint, the lawsuit alleges.

The commission debated a motion Wednesday night to allow the use of carotid restraints in certain circumstances, at least until other unspecified alternatives could be made available to officers. However, that motion was defeated in a 4-3 vote.

The union is also pushing for Taser stun guns to provide an additional less-lethal option for officers.

The union also this week lamented its apparent exclusion from the selection process for a new police chief, which Mayor Ed Lee denies. The mayor on Tuesday announced William Scott, a deputy chief in Los Angeles, as The City’s new police chief. Scott will succeed Chaplin, who has held the post following former Chief Greg Suhr’s resignation in May.

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