The Board of Supervisors is considering replacing Petra DeJesus, an extremely effective reformer and a leading progressive voice in our city, on the Police Commission, with a campaign ally and former boss of the newly-elected Supervisor Ahsha Safai. What a tragic and senseless mistake that would be. Our city is fortunate to have Petra DeJesus as a police commissioner, and as co-chairs of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, and along with our club membership, we enthusiastically support her reappointment.
In 2003, after the Police Department was embroiled in a scandal, notoriously known as Fajitagate, citizen reformers placed Proposition H on the ballot to strengthen citizen oversight by creating a commission with more independence and to institute a set of checks and balances on the police that are in line with best practices in other cities around the country. Under this commission, the path towards reform has been elusive and at times rocky, and we continue to face considerable challenges, but to fulfill the mandate of this commission, we need independent, qualified, and knowledgeable commissioners with a commitment to reform, not unqualified political appointees.
Petra DeJesus not only has the temperament and self-restraint to be a commissioner, she is the only candidate being considered with the knowledge, practical expertise and impeccable qualifications it takes to be a police commissioner. DeJesus has been an attorney for over 17 years serving low-income families and has served for 12 years as a police commissioner. Most importantly, her record of reform speaks for itself. She has worked with the Department of Justice more broadly to reform the S.F.P.D. with regards to racial profiling, bias, and use of force, and participated in the hiring of the new chief of police, William Scott, who, alongside DeJesus, is responsible for implementing the long needed reform recommendations made by the D.O.J. including body-worn cameras for all officers.
As queer Latina leaders, we are deeply committed to the many marginalized communities in our city and that’s one of the most important reasons to support Petra DeJesus for another term on the Police Commission. DeJesus has a deep and proven record of listening to all marginalized communities and for advocating for those whose voices are so often unheard. As a Latina lesbian, San Francisco native, and the only queer woman on the commission, Petra DeJesus knows too well how important it is to listen to all the diverse communities of our city and is highly trusted in the community to represent our interests, not some unrelated political agenda.
We have over 15 years of combined experience working with survivors of violence in San Francisco, and we believe our city deserves a police commissioner whose own track record reflects the behaviors that we want to see in our peace officers. We cannot condone any commissioner nominees who have exhibited physical and verbal abuse towards their own colleagues at work. What kind of message are we sending about accountability and oversight?
On the heels of many tragic deaths that have rocked these same communities, including Jessica Williams, Mario Woods, Alex Nieto and Luis Gongora Pat, our city needs a commissioner with impeccable judgment that we can trust like Petra Dejesus.
We hope you will join us in supporting her reappointment.
Kimberly Alvarenga and Carolina Morales are co-presidents of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, longtime residents of San Francisco, and bring a combined 30 years of experience serving working families, LGBT people and communities of color in The City.