Police critics are once again calling for an investigation into racism and bias in the San Francisco Police Department following the latest revelations of bigotry among police officers.
The renewed calls for investigations were made by the ACLU of Northern California and San Francisco’s Public Defender’s Office on Tuesday.
The requests specifically are for a federal patterns and practices investigation, as well as an inquiry from the state’s attorney general. Currently, a federal Community Oriented Policing Service’s collaborative review is underway, which was requested by the Police Department and Mayor Ed Lee earlier this year.
“These incidents reveal a pattern a practice within the Police Department that has allowed racism and disparate treatment of black and Latino people to fester and grow,” Public Defender Jeff Adachi wrote in a letter to California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who is also a former San Francisco district attorney.
Last week’s announcement by District Attorney George Gascon that a handful of officers were discovered to have sent or received racist and homophobic texts came almost a year after another revelation surfaced about 14 officers doing much of the same.
The federal review of the department by the Community Oriented Policing Service as well as proposed reforms to use of force rules, among other efforts, followed the controversial killing of Mario Woods last December by a group of officers in the Bayview district.
Despite these ongoing efforts to change how San Francisco is policed, the ACLU and the Public Defender’s Officer argue that there has been no follow-through in past reforms and the latest texts prove that.
“The texts show that these views are still alive in the department. The commitment to rebuilding community trust and recognizing the need for transformative and significant change is not,” wrote ACLU lawyer Alan Schlosser in a Tuesday letter to the federal Department of Justice.
“The SFPD is in denial about its problems, and therefore unable to truly collaborate. The choice to keep the information secret speaks volumes about the SFPD commitment to the reform process and the low priority it places on public trust.”
The ACLU’s letter also referenced the department’s nearly decade-old Early Intervention System, which was created in another collaborative review in 2008 by the Police Executives Research Forum (PERF), as an example of that failure.
“EIS is intended to flag problems and potentially problem officers for non-punitive supervisory interventions or counseling. But recent statistics show that the department does nothing with this information,” noted the letter.
The letter went on to say that in 2015, more than 360 officers were flagged but only six had any supervisory intervention, as the the San Francisco Examiner previously reported.
“The City and department don’t have structures or the will to carry out significant changes,” Schlosser told the Examiner.
Read more criminal justice news on the Crime Ink page in print. Follow us on Twitter: @sfcrimeinkAttorney General Kamala HarrisbigotryChief Greg SuhrcopsCrimeEd LeeGeorge GasconGreg SuhrInvestigationJeff AdachiMario WoodsPatterns and praticeracismRacist textsreformsSan Francisco PoliceSFPDSFPD reviewUse of Force