Malia Cohen, a former San Francisco supervisor and member of the California Board of Equalization, was nominated to serve on the Police Commission by Mayor London Breed. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Malia Cohen confirmed as police commissioner

Former Supervisor Malia Cohen’s nomination to the Police Commission cleared the Board of Supervisors without issue Tuesday, making her the newest member of the oversight board charged with disciplining officers and setting police policy.

Mayor London Breed put Cohen’s name forward for consideration last month after the supervisors rejected her previous nominees for two vacant commission seats, citing concerns about whether they were right candidates to drive police reform.

“Recent police killings and shootings of unarmed African Americans require that we rethink the role that police play in our communities, and this is an issue that Malia has been a leader on her whole career,” Breed said. “I’m confident that she’ll continue to move this issue forward on the Police Commission and will do so in a way that keeps our community safe while also advancing much-needed change.”

Cohen, an elected member of the State Board of Equalization, feuded with the police union during her two terms as a supervisor and advocated for reform after a series of fatal police shootings in 2015 and 2016.

She also pushed for an expansion of the Department of Police Accountability, then called the Office of Citizen Complaints.

In 2018, when former District Attorney George Gascon declined to charge the officers who fatally shot Mario Woods and Luis Gongora-Pat in two high-profile incidents, Cohen said the decisions undermined community relations with police.

“We seemingly hold the transgressions of police officers to a different standard of justice than the one we hold all other citizens,” Cohen said at the time.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to approve her appointment.

Cohen said she feels a “great sense of responsibility” being chosen to serve on the commission.

“I take to heart the recommendations of Mayor Breed in her road map for police reforms to fundamentally change the nature of policing in San Francisco, and to address systemic racism,” Cohen said. “As a police commissioner, I will join with my colleagues to ensure continual and transparent reviews of the policies and practices of the [Police Department]; and will always work to ensure that the voices from all of our communities—particularly persons of color—are heard.”

Cohen will serve the rest of a four-year term ending in April 2024.

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