San Francisco’s police oversight body is moving to address the fallout from the killing of a 26-year-old man by police — caught on video — by setting in motion reforms to policy and training for The City’s police.
“We need to guarantee against something like this ever happening again,” said Commissioner Julius Turman. “We owe the community better.”
Wednesday night, after hearing from angry and at times downright raged-filled public comments on the killing of Mario Woods, the police commission set out plans to begin the process of remaking the policies that govern how and when San Francisco police use force.
“Viewing that video has rattled the trust [the] African-American community has in this police department,” said Commission President Suzy Loftus on Wednesday night, pointing out that the department needs to take steps to make sure that distrust does not grow.
With that in mind, she said the commission, in its effort to reform the department’s use of force policies, expects to have a draft policy by the end of January. The commission plans to bring in outside help for that task.
The Police Executive Research Forum, which released a recent report on the use of force, has been asked to consult the commission in its efforts, said Loftus.
“There is a large paradigm shift that is happening in this country and policing,” she added, noting that San Francisco’s police needs to get on board or be left behind. The department’s soon-to-come body cameras and recently passed policy around those cameras, said Loftus, are good first steps in that direction.
Other commissioners said they were as appalled as the public after watching the killing and support changes to policy, but several cautioned against renewed request for Tasers.
“I think it’s simplistic to say, ‘All we need is Tasers and that wouldn’t have taken care of it,’” said Commissioner De Jesus, apparently addressing Chief Greg Suhr and San Francisco Police Officers Association statements on the matter.
In the meantime, Suhr, whose resignation was called for repeatedly Wednesday night by protesters, said he hopes the commission will at least allow a pilot program move ahead for a select few officers access to Tasers. That request aside, he said he is also taking part in a broader effort to reform use of force in American police forces with about 30 other departments.
That effort will use a model of policing based in the United Kingdom, which is called the Natural Decision model and emphasizes de-escalation strategies.