By Chris Reed.
The global spotlight on the Bay Area created by Super Bowl 50 couldn’t have come at a worse time for the San Francisco Police Department. The fatal December shooting of Mario Woods, a young African American stabbing suspect who was shot by five officers as he walked away from them, continues to trigger increasingly regular protests.
Now the U.S. Justice Department has concluded that there is sufficient evidence of wrongdoing that it is going to review SFPD and its history. Yahoo News has details:
“We will examine the San Francisco Police Department’s current operational policies, training practices and accountability systems, and help identify key areas for improvement going forward,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement.
At the conclusion of the review, the Justice Department will give San Francisco police a list of best practices it can follow to ensure fairness in its interactions with citizens.
San Francisco police will then report back to the Justice Department on a periodic basis to show it is following the practices, a Justice Department official said.
The ACLU of Northern California and African American activists welcomed the announcement.
Officers asked to pledge not to be racists
Meanwhile, San Francisco police are also being called out, in essence, by their chief, who is asking them to pledge to not act like racists, according to the Christian Science Monitor.
“People that would use racial epithets, slurs and things like that clearly fall below the minimum standard of being a police officer,” Police Chief Greg Suhr [said]. “A cop needs to show character and point that out.”
Suhr noted that a website — notonmywatchsfpd.org — had been launched to emphasize what he expects out of his officers. This is from its “About” description:
SFPD created the Not On My Watch initiative … in an effort to improve relationships between police officers and the diverse communities they serve.
“This first-of-its-kind pledge is about recognizing that we need to guard against our own implicit biases,” said SFPD Chief Greg Suhr, “and to call out anyone who is intolerant or bigoted.”
Since 2011, SFPD policy has prohibited biased policing. The inspiration for the Not On My Watch project came from SFPD Sergeant Yulanda Williams, president of Officers for Justice. “It tells everyone that I am going to treat them with dignity and respect,” said Sgt. Williams. “And at the same time, we’re encouraging them to trust us, respect us and allow us to help them by delivering the type of police service that makes for viable, stable communities.”
Selling police chief as idealist may prove difficult
This initiative may play well in San Francisco and nationally, but Suhr’s critics will question his sincerity and idealism. He’s had to deal with two rounds of harsh news coverage since last summer.
The city had to spend nearly $1.5 million to defend him from a whistleblower’s lawsuit with embarrassing allegations and persuasive evidence that Suhr mishandled a domestic violence case to help a friend.
He’s also accused of giving special breaks to a family friend in his attempt to secure a job as a San Francisco officer.
Originally posted at Cal Watchdog.