Commissioner Cindy Elias listens during a meeting of the San Francisco Police Commission at City Hall on Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Supes reappoint ‘independent voice’ to Police Commission

Noting the importance of an “independent” oversight board, the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously re-appointed labor attorney Cindy Elias to the Police Commission for a four-year term.

In voting to re-appoint Elias to what will be her first four-year term, Supervisor Hillary Ronen emphasized the importance of the Police Commission as a “checks and balances” body.

Ronen, however, noted that four of the commissioners are appointed by the mayor, “which tend to support the actions of the department. This board gets an important three voices on that commission.”

Ronen praised Elias, who is one of the board’s appointees, as a “consistent and independent voice on this commission.”.

“I have seen some actions at the Police Commission where that independence between the Mayor’s Office and the commission isn’t as strong as I would like it to be,” Ronen said. “I think that the reason we have citizens’ oversight of the Police Department is so we have checks and balances on this organization.”

Ronen didn’t specify what “actions,” but the San Francisco Examiner previously reported two separate incidents when the mayor appointees and board appointees disagreed.

At one recent meeting, three board appointees, including Elias, voted to reconsider a controversial November 2017 vote to authorize Police Department to use stun-guns, or Tasers. The mayoral appointees did not.

At another meeting, the three board-appointed members, including Elias, walked out of a meeting in protest when the commission voted to have both the chair and vice-chair of the commission filled by mayoral appointees.

Supervisor Ahsha Safai noted that Elias’ first four-year term comes as the body will be discussing “cutting-edge issues as we move into a new era as it pertains to use of force, engaging the community and working with the Police Department.”

The board voted 11-0 to reappoint Elias, who the board previously appointed in June, to a four-year term ending April 2023.

Elias is a labor enforcement attorney with the state’s Labor Commissioner’s Office and a former San Francisco deputy public defender.

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