We are veteran civilian oversight investigators with a combined 109 years of experience working at San Francisco’s Department of Police Accountability (DPA). We support effective, independent oversight of the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department.
As it stands, Sheriff Paul Miyamoto has tasked the Department of Police Accountability (DPA), an entity that was created for the purpose of investigating complaints against San Francisco police officers, with also handling complaints against Sheriff’s deputies. This is not an adequate solution. It’s not the DPA’s job, and it’s not providing the effective oversight that the Sheriff’s Department requires and the people of San Francisco deserve.
The DPA (previously the Office of Citizen Complaints) should be focused on the tasks the voters of San Francisco have assigned it: serving as a watchdog for the police department by investigating complaints, conducting performance audits and making policy recommendations. It should not be taking on additional, unrelated duties until it achieves its primary mission.
One of the DPA’s responsibilities is to complete investigations in a timely manner. But according to its own Satisfaction Survey Results, released in July 2020, 54% of complainants were “Very Dissatisfied” or “Dissatisfied” that their complaint was handled quickly, and almost one-third of police officers were dissatisfied with the timeliness of the DPA’s investigations. Handling complaints against the Sheriff’s Department will take DPA resources away from investigating complaints against police officers that, in 2019, increased 53% since over the previous two years.
The DPA has also barely completed a third of the US DOJ’s recommendations on policing best practices despite having had the last four years to do so. If the DPA is not even fulfilling its own responsibilities, how should San Franciscans be expected to trust that it can properly take on the responsibilities of an entirely additional Department overseeing hundreds of Sheriff deputies?
Proposition D, on this November’s ballot, would provide robust and transparent oversight by establishing an independent seven-member Sheriff’s Department Oversight Board. The Board would appoint an Inspector General, who would operate with the authority and transparency that effective oversight requires.
The Inspector General would investigate complaints and in-custody deaths, compile and recommend best practices, and conduct community outreach to hear public input regarding operations and jail conditions. And it would develop a use of force policy and comprehensive review process for all use of force and critical incidents. Under the current setup, the DPA performs only one of these three essential functions for the Sheriff’s Department.
From our lengthy experience working in oversight of a law enforcement agency, we know what works and what doesn’t. The current system isn’t working. Proposition D will establish a system that will work. We urge you to vote YES on Proposition D.
David Aulet, Investigator, Department of Police Accountability, 1989 – 2019
Jessica Cole, Investigator, Department of Police Accountability, 2000 – 2017
Sherry Fletcher, Sr Investigator, Department of Police Accountability, 2005 – 2018
Karol Heppe, Investigator, Department of Police Accountability, 1998 – 2018
Gregory Underwood, Investigator, Department of Police Accountability, 2008 – 2018
Jayson Wechter, Investigator, Department of Police Accountability, 1998 – 2017