After a review panel found systemic problems within the San Francisco police department and a more than two-week-long hunger strike rallied hundreds to call for the firing of the city’s police chief — a call the majority of candidates for District 9 echoed this month — four supervisors called for Police Chief Greg Suhr to step down late last week.
We asked candidates for District 9 to talk about why departmental reforms do not seem to be satisfying those calling for Chief Suhr’s job and what might appease those protesters.
Do you think the anger of protesters in the city will be satisfied with the departmental reforms begun by the mayor? If so, what makes you think that? If not, what will appease protesters?
Respuestas en español aquí.
Darcel Jackson, caterer and formerly homeless app maker
The removal of Mr. Suhr. We have to change the entire culture of the police department. We need to be protected and serve people. We are afraid of the police [who are] not good. If we continue to do things the same way, we will get the same results. That is why I am here [to] change.
Edwin Lindo, Vice-President of External Affairs at the Latino Democratic Club
The Mayor continues to prove his disregard for the people of San Francisco, especially the poor and communities of color.
His $17.5 million in reform is a mockery of the 17 plus days me and the other four members of the Frisco 5 went without food.
All the of the money proposed should be invested in our communities — I can’t believe $4.4 million is being invested in a police force that has proven ineffective.
The people of San Francisco understand that needed reforms will not come under the current leadership — Chief Suhr must be fired or step down. That is step one.
Hillary Ronen, Chief of Staff for Supervisor David Campos
I think it’s important that the protestors are allowed to speak for themselves and I would hope that there can be dialogue between the Mayor and not only the protestors, but community members from all over the city on reforms to the police department.
I agree with the findings of District Attorney Gascon’s Blue Ribbon police reform panel and believe at a minimum that the following reforms need to be put in place this year.
- I support Tom Ammiano’s call for an Office of Public Advocate, like they have in New York, Portland, and Seattle, or LA’s Inspector General that performs annual investigations into police conduct.
- I believe that the Office of Citizen Complaints needs to be removed from under the authority of the Mayor and placed under an independent oversight.
- I support Malia Cohen’s Prop D that requires investigations by the OCC with all officer involved shootings.
- I believe that the Mayor should begin a search for a Police Chief from outside of our current police department that can make the reforms that are needed to our police department.
Melissa San Miguel, education advocate
This question, instead of focusing on the root cause of the issue, focuses on the protesters. I support their demand to fire Chief Suhr or ask him to resign. We need to remember who this is all for, why the protests were taken up in the first place and not focus on any one or set of individuals. I want to talk about how we can come together as a city and reform our policing culture, not talk about how we are going to appease a group of people. We must keep front-and-center the issue at hand – the importance of ensuring a respectful police culture towards people of color, women and LGBT individuals, the importance of ensuring de-escalation practices are implemented and followed, and the importance of ensuring accountability in our police force. As Supervisor, I will focus on developing policies that will help to improve the lives of the people who need our support.
Joshua Arce, civil rights attorney and Community Liaison for Laborers Local 261
There is no question that people in the community are angry, recent protests are the result of issues which have taken years to develop, and they are not going to go away overnight.
While almost everyone I talk to has a different view about the best path forward, there are some points that all of us agree on. We need reforms and we need them now. There are many of us who would like to see the mayor’s reforms go further, but we support these reforms as the first of many necessary steps.
We all want safe streets where everyone in our community feels protected by law enforcement and we need to restore trust between communities of color and our police. I believe that is the ultimate goal for all of the reforms that have been proposed over the past several weeks and indeed the past several years.
Iswari España, Training Officer with the San Francisco Human Services Agency
Protesters are dissatisfied with the administration of SFPD. We are asking for the resignation or destitution of the Chief. We want an independent investigative body to look into departmental mishandling of cases involving use of deadly force. In addition, we want the Blue Ribbon Commission findings addressed. The Mayor is not addressing these community concerns. It is frustrating to hear that instead of a solution, our concerns are seen as irrelevant, and the Mayor magically generates/allocates millions of dollars to address Department issues. Why is no one asking where this funding is coming from? Ironically, our local supervisor only agrees with our concerns if other supervisors take the lead. We want equal representation.
43 Questions is a weekly series — started 43 weeks before Election Day — to question the candidates running for District 9 supervisor. Send us questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know in comments or in an email if you think candidates have answered as asked.