Police Commission hears recommendations for reorganizing SFPD

The Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice is leading a move to contract with an outside firm to analyze and make recommendations to reorganize the Police Department.

On Wednesday, the office’s deputy director, David Onek, read to the Police Commission a concept paper submitted by Washington, D.C.-based PERF, or Police Executives Research Forum. In the paper, the group outlined five areas on which it would focus its analysis and gave a general strategy on how it would conduct its research.

In December 2005, Mayor Gavin Newsom called for the formation of a blue-ribbon committee to review department practices after a series of controversial videos produced by officers at the Bayview Station emerged. He denounced the videos as racist, homophobic and sexist and called for a “comprehensive, independent review of the entire department.’’

The blue-ribbon committee never materialized due to lack of funding. Instead, the Mayor’s Office is looking to collaborate with outside experts on conducting the department’s review. Those experts will most likely be PERF.

The PERF review, which would take about a year, is intended to answer questions about staffing strategies — such as the ideal ratio of officers on foot to those in cars in a given neighborhood — hiring practices, use of force, information technology and an overall strategic vision for the department.

The research group bills itself as “a national membership organization of progressive police executives from the largest city, county and state law enforcement agencies.” Onek said the group’s human resources attracted his office.

“One thing this organization has is access to former police chiefs who have implemented these [recommendations] in other cities,” he said.

Funding for the partnership has not yet been identified, nor has the cost been estimated. The Police Commission has not yet approved the plan, and public comment has yet to be heard.

“This is an initial proposal. They haven’t even put a price tag on it,” Onek said.

Chief Heather Fong expressed support for the outside review and the outline presented Wednesday. “Many of the subjects of that document are things we’ve been talking about. We welcome the opportunity to improve what we know needs improving and to verify what we know is working,” she said on Wednesday.

The proposed review comes on the heels of legislation that would affect department policy. Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi proposed legislation last week that would redraw the boundaries of police districts, in a move intended to givemore support to neighborhoods that see consistently high crime rates.

In May, Mirkarimi introduced a bill that would compel stations in his district to staff scheduled foot beats.

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