A special city-sponsored security force will come under criticism at a Police Commission hearing tonight about charges that a representative of the special unit allowed an unauthorized man to put on a gun and uniform and patrol the streets.
The Patrol Special force has been a part of the City Charter since 1932. The officers are a type of armed security force hired by merchants looking for added protection. In the 1970s there were around 400 officers but that number has dwindled to 25.
Jane Warner, the president of Patrol Special Police Association, is charged with allowing Willie Adams, a man in his late 40s, to work as a member of the security unit, even though his application had been rejected.
Adams faces his own charges in criminal court, involving a raid of his home in which police said they found drugs, police badges, guns and confiscated identification cards.
The Police Department’s Web site makes a special note to discern itself from the security force, “Patrol Special Officers and their Assistants are NON-SWORN private patrol persons who are NOT members of the San Francisco Police Department.”
At the same time, only the police chief or the Police Commission can hire a new patrol special officer or assistant, and the police department approved a preliminary background check for Adams. Shortly thereafter, he began patrolling the streets.
But nine months later, in May 2006, Adams learned he had failed a more strenuous background check reserved for police officers primarily on the basis of “moral turpitude.” He filed a civil lawsuit against The City in November of that year claiming he was discriminated against because he was black, gay and HIV positive.
Police claim that despite the rejection of his application, Adams continued to patrol the streets as an assistant patrol special officer at the supervision of Warner.
In February 2007, in what Adams said was a tip from a criminal informant he was in a relationship with, police raided his home, seizing his uniform, guns, badges and small baggies of methamphetamine and marijuana. Adams is still working through proceedings in criminal court, but now Warner is facing charges that she helped Adams continue as a Patrol Special.
Warner’s attorney, Waukeen McCoy, who also handled Adams’ civil case, said Warner is being disciplined like a peace officer without all the rights given to an officer, such as confidentiality and counsel. McCoy said the outcome of both Adams’ and Warner’s cases could have a big impact on the City’s procedures in regards to Patrol Special officers.
“There are a lot of underlying issues that need to be resolved by The City itself, because Patrol Specials are getting all the negative impact of a police disciplinary hearing without all the rights.”