One of San Francisco’s busiest police stations has more red flags for troubling officer behavior than any other station, as noted in an early warning system meant to prevent officers from committing serious acts of misconduct.
Department-wide, the number of alerts flagging possibly troubling behavior nearly tripled from 2015 to 2016, but much of that increase may be due to new reporting requirements around use of force.
The newest data, presented at the Police Commission meeting Wednesday, comes from the last quarter of 2016. Such data has been collected by the Police Department’s Early Intervention System for nearly two decades.
In addition to a focus on Mission Station, which had the highest number of alerts, there appears to be a trend of increased alerts but fewer interventions, which was already a problem.
In all, there were 877 alerts flagging officers in 2016, including some officers more than once. While there were 207 officers with at least one alert, only four officers had interventions despite a rise in the number flagged department-wide.
That compares to 2015 when 307 alerts were filed by the department for risky or troubling behavior. In all, 145 officers had at least one alert, but only nine of those officers were deemed in need of intervention that year.
Police watchdog and former ACLU lawyer John Crew said the high number of alerts may not simply be an indicator that there is a rise in troubling behavior, but that a large number of the alerts are linked to newly reportable use of force: pulling a gun.
Still, the larger issue, he said, is the fact that so few officers are having interventions.
“Long-standing problems of the department complying with its own orders on the EIS system have still to be resolved,” he said.
Interventions can be anything from retraining and close observation of an officer to a performance plan and transfers.
The EIS system uses a number of factors to detect troubling behavior, including citizen complaints, Internal Affairs investigations, reported uses of force, shootings and civil lawsuits.
In all, EIS alerts have been on the rise every quarter of 2016. There were 117 in the first quarter compared to 314 in the last quarter.
Mission Station topped the list of stations with the most alerts — 64 in all in the last quarter of the year. Central Station and the Bayview Station came up next, both with 39.
Park and Richmond stations had the least, with four each.
In all, Mission Station had 187 alerts this year followed by Tenderloin Station, which had 120. Bayview Station was the next for the year, with 117.
Special units like the Tactical Squad and the Patrol Bureau Task Force had far fewer alerts.
The stations with the most alerts were also the stations with the most arrests and calls for service, but the degree of activity was not always linked to alerts.
For instance, Tenderloin Station had the most arrests in 2016 — 4,008 — but was not on the top of the list for alerts. Mission Station, in fact, wasn’t even in the top three stations that arrested the most people, yet it had the most alerts.
Still, last year Mission Station had the most calls for service — 90,169 — followed by Central Station with 84,438 and Southern Station, which had 83,114.
Mission Station also had the most use of force incidents in the last quarter of 2016 and was the station with the second-highest number of Department of Police Accountability investigations.
The department did not return a call for comment.