Last week, the Department of Justice issued a scathing review of the Police Department following a six-month investigation of the force. That followed a previous investigation and report by the Blue Ribbon Panel, a group of retired judges assembled by District Attorney George Gascón to look into department practices.
Both found the department needed better racial bias training for officers, a better data collection system, and a more open disciplinary process, among other changes. This week, we asked candidates which of the 81 recommendations made by the Blue Ribbon Panel they thought the most important.
Of the recommendations made by the Blue Ribbon Panel to the Board of Supervisors, which one do you think the most important to be implemented and why?
Respuestas en español aquí.
Hillary Ronen, Chief of Staff for Supervisor David Campos
I’ve been consistently outspoken about the need for police reform. If I’m elected supervisor one of my top priorities will include: real and meaningful oversight of the police department; body cameras that officers can’t turn off or review before filing police reports; and mandatory de-escalation before any use of force.
Sadly, my opponent has been dishonest about his record on police reform. As chronicled in the San Francisco Examiner, when Josh served on the Democratic County Central Committee (DCCC), he gutted a measure calling for meaningful reform of the SFPD such as requiring annual racial bias training and monthly review of officers who commit illegal searches.
Josh stripped out all 9 substantive recommendations from the resolution and instead turned it into a document praising the police department. It’s no surprise that the Police Officers Association has funded two PACs supporting Josh Arce’s District 9 supervisor campaign to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars.
Joshua Arce, Civil Rights Attorney
It is clear that we must take any measures necessary to rebuild the trust between our police department and our communities.
Some of the most important aspects of the Blue Ribbon Panel report and the recent Department of Justice report include, adequately tracking use-of-force incidents, changing the use-of-force policy to emphasize de-escalation, completing independent investigations of use-of-force incidents, engaging in substantial implicit bias training, updating the department’s community policing practices, and increasing diversity in recruitment and promotion practices.
Of these, I believe the most urgent reforms are changing our use-of-force policy to emphasize de-escalation and requiring independent investigations of of use-of-force incidents.
With a new Police Chief and the recent recommendations from the Department of Justice, I believe this is a moment of real opportunity to change the way our police department operates for the better and become a model of justice and inclusivity.
Melissa San Miguel, Education Advocate
Being an officer on the force is a challenging job and it comes with immense responsibility to the community. As it stands, the SFPD must immediately change its outdated, insufficient use of force policy. The current policy allows officers to “use whatever force is reasonable and necessary” and “no more,” but these terms are vague and undefined. This is unacceptable.
The Police Commission should immediately adopt a new use of force policy that declares the fundamental sanctity of human life. The new policy must require officers to use de-escalation tactics, whenever feasible, before resorting to force. To protect the sanctity of human life, force must only be used as a last resort, and officers must be required to use the least amount of force necessary.
However, the new policy will be mere words unless officers are not held accountable when they use force improperly or excessively. To repair the lack of trust between the SFPD and communities across the city, data must be collected on use of force incidents, that information must be publicly available and officers must be held accountable when they violate the use of force policy.
Iswari España, Training Officer with the Human Services Agency
I believe that all of the recommendations offered by the by the panel are of extreme importance.
If I had the power to implement one in particular it would have to be Chapter 4 on Internal discipline on its entirety.
This chapter addresses accountability issues that for years have been overlooked. To me accountability is critical, as this concept enhances the ethics of operations.
Accountability in this setting, is a willingness to answer for the outcomes of your choices, actions, and behaviors.
I am appreciative, that the chapter offers viable consequences. If there are consequences for inappropriate behavior, the department and its force will have a real reason from deterring from bad practices. The community wants transparency; we do not want to live in fear of those that are meant to protect us. As supervisor, I will advocate for our community and our neighbors.
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.