A disconnect exists between the three bodies that oversee San Francisco’s police disciplinary process, according to department brass, union officials and police commissioners.
According to city charter, the civilian Office of Citizen Complaints, which hears and investigates complaints against police officers, is supposed to present its findings to the department and Chief Heather Fong for review. The Police Commission, which oversees the department and OCC, then dispenses any punishments beyond a 10-day suspension.
However, during a police ethics panel Tuesday at the University of San Francisco, Fong, along with police commissioners and the president of the Police Officers Association, said the protocol is not being honored, therefore denying officers, as well as complainants, a fair disciplinary process — as well as bad blood between the three agencies.
“I feel there have been times when the OCC director took a case to the commission before the meet and confer was done,” Fong said.
The criticism comes after a high-profile police shooting case that the OCC handled was thrown out of criminal court on such a technicality. The OCC is also the subject of an audit.
OCC Director Kevin Allen said Fong had raised that complaint with the commission some months ago. Since then, he said, the OCC has made “numerous overtures” to try to meet with her and the city attorney to clarify exactly when the meet-and-confer process ends. He said the chief had not yet responded.
Police Officers Association President Gary Delagnes also identified a “disconnect,” and said officers have lost faith with discipline because, “oversight of the OCC is not only inadequate but incompetent.”
Allen said his organization answers to the Police Commission, and the ongoing audit by the City Controller’s Office exemplifies another level of accountability the organization faces.
“Situations have been represented without the full context being represented. That is unfair to the entire process, including the officers who are involved,” Allen said.