SFPD slow to address misconduct

The Police Department is dragging its feet to implement a system that would red-flag as many as 60 officers annually exhibiting tendencies of misconduct, according to a draft city-commissioned report.

The so-called Early Intervention System crunches data and highlights “potential deficiencies in officers’ performance and behavior” that would lead to an abusive situation, says a report by Washington, D.C.-based consultant Police Executive Research Forum.

The department, which committed to installing the system in 2005, has established performance indicators, such as use-of-force incidents, officer-involved shootings and complaints filed with the Office of Citizen Complaints, and associated factors, such as discretionary time off and pedestrian stops, that would tag an officer for intervention.

While the Police Department has made progress in implementing the system, it remains incomplete because of the department’s inability to capture necessary or reliable data on each officer, according to the report.

“One significant challenge to initiating the Early Intervention System in San Francisco has been the retrieval of reliable information related to the 10 indicators and 14 associated factors,” the report says. In July 2008, the system was advanced to capture all but four factors. However, some of the data captured by the system is not considered reliable, including the number of arrests by officers and motor vehicle stops, the report says. The report does not say exactly why it’s considered unreliable.

When initially proposed, the system faced opposition from the Police Officers Association, sparking a battle over its implementation. It ultimately gained the support of the Police Commission and police Chief Heather Fong.

The police commission approved the system in February, stating it “is intended to provide nondisciplinary intervention, whenever possible, to assist members of the department in their professional department,” the report says.

POA Vice President Kevin Martin said the union remains “distrustful” of the police administration that the system will not be used to discipline officers.

The association is not alone in its opposition to such technology. Employee representatives in other jurisdictions have said they are also “fearful that such a system will be used for disciplinary purposes or will influence personnel decisions such as assignment selection and promotions.”

Police Commissioner David Campos said the commission has advocated for installation of the technology because it would identify “any patterns of misconduct” and “will help in developing public trust.”

Police spokesman Sgt. Wilfred Williams said, “Significant commitment and resources have been utilized in this effort.

“The department continues to move forward toward implementation of a technology-based, real-time system to identify employees who may have engaged in potential at-risk behaviors.”

The draft report finding was among numerous others, part of a recommended overhaul of the Police Department to make the agency more efficient in halting murders and cracking down on low-level offenses. A final report is due out in December.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

Preventing abuse

Below are the indicators tracked by the Early Intervention System to red-flag officers at risk for misconduct. The Police Department had been unable to provide reliable data on officers to implement the high-tech system.

Use-of-force incidents

Officer-involved shootings

Complaints filed with Office of Citizen Complaints

Civil lawsuits

Vehicle pursuits

On-duty traffic incidents

Discretionary time off

Voluntary overtime worked

Tort claims

Management control division complaints

Pedestrian stops

Source: Police Executive Research Forum draft report

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