San Francisco Police Officers Association President Tony Montoya pulls off victory in run-off election (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Union threatens legal action after Police Commission expands use-of-force policy

San Francisco’s police union is pursuing legal action after the Police Commission voted to expand the use-of-force policy this week without sending the changes into labor negotiations.

The Police Commission had essentially challenged the San Francisco Police Officers Association to file a lawsuit when it amended the policy late Wednesday night without input from the union.

The lengthy meet-and-confer process with the union has been criticized for bogging down efforts to reform the department. But the union argues that it has a right to negotiate over changes to working conditions.

SFPOA President Tony Montoya outlined the legal threat in a message to members Thursday.

“This morning I instructed our attorneys to assess all legal options and take the most aggressive legal position possible in terms of responding to the Police Commission’s disrespectful treatment of the Police Department and our members,” Montoya wrote.

The union sued and lost the last time the Police Commission halted the meet-and-confer process and amended the use-of-force policy to ban shooting at moving cars and the carotid hold in late 2016.

A judge later ruled that the commission did not need to confer with the union over use-of-force policies.

The new changes to the use-of-force policy explicitly prevent officers from applying pressure with the knee to the neck in light of the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd.

The policy also now advises officers only to place people in prone or seated positions as a last resort.

The changes came after the San Francisco Examiner first reported on a video of a San Francisco police officer appearing to kneel on the neck of a man in Hunters Point.

Montoya said the decision not to seek input represents a “complete lack of respect of our members as stakeholders and unequivocally proves that, unlike the Police Department, they are not interested in working in a collaborative manner to achieve meaningful change and reform.”

Read the full SFPOA message here:

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

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