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Preliminary findings of police bias probe find SFPD lacks discipline, oversight

May 10, 2016

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

The San Francisco Police Department is opaque in its discipline, arbitrary in its hiring and biased in its policing of communities of color.

Such were the blistering preliminary findings of a year-long inquiry into The City’s troubled police department that was launched by District Attorney George Gascon and released to the San Francisco Examiner Monday.

The findings come as activist allies of five hunger strikers known as the “Frisco 5,” who ended their 17-day fast last weekend, continue to pressure Mayor Ed Lee to fire Chief Greg Suhr.

The initial findings of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Transparency, Accountability, and Fairness in Law Enforcement note that there are a number of serious issues in the department related to everything from discipline, hiring and oversight to lack of transparency and biased policing of minority communities…


The Blue Ribbon Panel is comprised of three distinguished judges: LaDoris Hazzard Cordell, Cruz Reynoso and Dickran Tevrizian. They were chosen for their records in civil rights and their independence. None are being paid.

Seven pro bono law firms took on areas areas of inquiry and will give a public report on the issue Monday night before the judges.

The law firm that looked into stops, searches and arrests found that the department engages in controversial “stop and frisk” practices and there is a disparity when it come to black and Latino citizens. Those communities “overwhelmingly report bias and a lack of community policing.”

But even the data collected on such stops, searches and arrests is incomplete, noted the finding…

Perhaps the most damning findings were that the department engages in controversial “stop and frisk” practices and that no internal review of systematic bias was conducted following the release of racist texts sent by officers in 2015.

“A common theme from the working groups is that the SFPD is not transparent and lacks accountability because there is no auditing of its functions in any meaningful way, including with regard to hiring; background investigations; training, use-of-force and officer-involved shooting investigations; and internal affairs,” the panel’s executive director, Anand Subramanian, wrote in an email to the San Francisco Examiner…

The department appears to have little to no external oversight, found the law firm looking into that matter…

Finally, the department’s sharing of crime data “is inconsistent and insufficient to track potential bias.”

The panel is set to announce its preliminary hearing at a public forum at 5:30 p.m. Monday at 762 Fulton St. in the Buriel Clay Theater.

The findings are expected to be made final after being reviewed by the three-judge panel, who will then release their reform recommendations…(more)


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