City’s Office of Citizen Complaints to be audited

San Francisco police commissioners on Wednesday approved a formal performance audit of the agency that handles citizen complaints against the Police Department.

The City Controller’s Office will conduct the audit, which the commission first called for earlier this year. It will examine the Office of Citizen Complaints’ efficiency and effectiveness, as well as that of its director, Kevin Allen.

The commission has received complaints that the office has moved too slowly on disciplinary cases, exceeding the statute of limitations on charges against officers so that they cannot be disciplined. The San Francisco Police Officers Association, meanwhile, has repeatedly called for the OCC to conduct more transparent investigations.

Police Chief Heather Fong said she was glad the audit would move forward. “When there are allegations of misconduct, officers deserve to have a fair investigation based on facts,” she said. She also said the audit might help clarify officers’ required cooperation with OCC investigations. “It is very clear that this [officer cooperation] is not a request, it is a directive.”

Peg Stevenson, director of performance audits for the City Controller’s Office, said the office had done the initial groundwork for the investigation but was waiting for Wednesday’s authorization to officially commence its report. She said her office would be looking at communications within the agency and with other agencies, as well as management procedures.

Commission Vice President Theresa Sparks said the commission had called for the audit “because of the excessive amount of personnel turnover and the fact that we did not receive reports required by the [city] charter, such as the annual report.”

Allen said he welcomes the audit. “I think outside eyes are important,” he said, for maximizing the office’s efficiency. “We’ve tried to be in complete compliance in providing documents,” he said, but confidentiality restrictions prohibit the OCC from revealing all of its paperwork.

amartin@examiner.com

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