Sgt. Yulanda Williams. (Mike Koozmin/2015 S.F. Examiner)

SFPD union refutes claims made by head of black officers association

The squabble between the San Francisco police union head and a leading black officer in the department has taken another turn with the union president penning a letter that takes on the officer’s critique-laced resignation letter point by point.

The latest correspondence continues a feud between the two over their opposing visions of the department and the union in the midst of a push for major reforms in the department.

Sgt. Yulanda Williams, who heads the black officers association Officers For Justice, resigned from the Police Officers Association in protest last month over what she said was the union’s failure to address minority issues and its promotion of recalcitrant and backward approaches to police reform and minority concerns.

“Your organization does not demonstrate sensitivity or a willingness to adjust its value based upon the needs of other ethnicities within this department,” wrote Williams in her Nov. 18 resignation letter. “As an organizational union leader this is unacceptable conduct and leads to confusion and dysfunction.”

Williams, who was not mailed a copy of the letter, said it is one more example of the POA’s continued attack tactics aimed at her because she has criticized them.

“They already heard from me what my points are,” she said. “They elect to continue to go on to attack me as the president of the OFJ.”

The San Francisco Police Officers Association president responded in a three-page letter sent to its 2,300 members Nov. 29, defending many of Williams’ critiques. That defense included the union’s campaign donation to San Francisco’s Republican party, its retention of a controversial consultant and allegations that had pitted black officers against one another. The letter also refutes allegation of bias and unrepresentative leadership.

“I am troubled by false allegations she makes about the San Francisco Police Officers Association,” wrote Martin Halloran.

Halloran’s letter addresses each point of criticism, noting that the union is run democratically, equally defends members in court cases and has no power over who is promoted in the department.

When it comes to Williams’ critique of the union’s recent donation to the local Republican party, Halloran wrote that the union usually gives to both the Democratic and Republican parties.

“No POA monies were sent to any Republican candidates in a local state or national level. (It is a touch ironic that the OFJ President encourages her members to leave the POA and join the Fraternal Order of Police’s local chapter, an organization which publicly endorsed Donald Trump for president.)”

Halloran also addressed Williams’ critique of the POA’s retention of former President Gary Delagnes as a consultant, stating that he decided to keep Delagnes in his current role.

“I have no regrets. His expertise in negotiations and in the political arena is second to none,” wrote Halloran.

His letter also addressed Williams’ accusation that the POA has set black officers against one another. “The most offensive allegations made by the OFJ president is that the POA is engaged in ‘Willie Lynch Syndrome.’ I had to look up the term (which is, by the way, based on a hoax.) She is basically accusing the POA of pitting African-Americans against other African-Americans. Her accusations are as false as the hoax it is based on and it is a complete lie.”

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