On the heels of a dramatic reduction over the past three years in the San Francisco Police Commission’s backlog of disciplinary cases against police officers, some commissioners proposed Wednesday to cut the commission’s meeting schedule, perhaps in half.
While the public meetings of the Police Commission can be somewhat of a dry affair, they also allow for regular, often passionate, public comment on issues affecting residents’ interactions with police. They are also a forum for the police chief to hear residents’ concerns, and praise, in person.
The three newest members of the seven-member civilian oversight body on the San Francisco Police Department – James Slaughter, Julius Turman and Carol Kingsley – said at Wednesday night’s meeting the commission should consider fewer meetings.
Earlier in the evening, commission president Thomas Mazzucco noted that the commission, the Police Department and the Office of Citizen Complaints had worked hard to trim a “very, very drastic situation” of 77 unresolved police disciplinary cases down to 16 pending cases.
“It’s now a more-than-manageable situation,” Mazzucco said.
Slaughter said the disciplinary caseload was “a big part of why we have regularly met every week.” He proposed the commission meet only twice a month instead of four times.
“There was a reason, I think, why we were meeting every week, and I’m not quite sure we need to,” Slaughter said. “And I think sometimes having a little bit more time between meetings will provide some more thoughtful meetings, some more thoughtful presentations.”
Turman said fewer meetings would not necessarily cut the amount of work the commission does, but would allow commissioners to better allocate their time.
“Some of the important work that we also do takes place outside of the commission meetings,” Turman said.
“What we’re trying to do is get our arms around what are the fixed obligations of the commission, and putting that into our time schedule, as well as the variable matters that come and go,” Kingsley said.
Commissioners are paid a stipend of $100 per month.