After a nearly three-month hiatus, the Police Commission will reconvene in a virtual format as early as May 20, according to Commissioner Damali Taylor, its acting president.
A resumption date came after Commissioners John Hamasaki and Petra DeJesus sent a letter to Mayor London Breed’s office on Monday, requesting that it grant the Police Commission permission to hold meetings. It asked why the Planning Commission has been able to meet for the last three weeks while the Police Commission has been dark.
“While we support the ability of our fellow commissions to meet, one has to ask: Is the approval of a West Elm Formula Retail store … more important than the health and safety of our residents and visitors?” the letter says, referring to an item agendized for the Planning Commission. “We think the answer is clearly ‘no.’”
Former President Bob Hirsch suspended meetings starting March 4, as the COVID-19 crisis began to envelop San Francisco and its government.
“Right now, we’re hoping for May 20,” Taylor said by phone, noting that she’s been working to pull together the technology required to enable public comment and private sessions.
Commissioners Hamasaki and DeJesus asserted in their letter that recent police department matters were of equal importance to other commissions currently meeting, and those issues needed attention. Among them: Police officers on Friday ejecting squatters from a vacant Castro District home while wearing highly visible Police Officers Association-provided “Blue Lives Matter” masks, two shootings by San Francisco officers, and an officer arrested on suspicion of rape and domestic violence.
The letter was the latest scuffle between the mayor’s four appointees and the Board of Supervisors’ three appointees. Hamasaki, a board appointee, accused Taylor, mayoral appointee, of saying, “the commission would not be scheduling any meetings,” and the mayor was preventing her from doing so.
Taylor said the conversation was “misconstrued,” and blamed technological issues on the delay. Hamasaki, however, said he clearly remembers that Taylor “said repeatedly that she tried to schedule meetings, but that the mayor was blocking us.”
Jeff Cretan, a spokesman for Breed, said the police commission has never formally requested to resume meetings. He said that some commissioners “reached out about potentially wanting them to meet — but that wasn’t a request.”
A letter, he said, needs to be sent by the commission secretary, and the mayor’s office will decide. The commission could also ask the Board of Supervisors.
That has yet to happen for the May 20 meeting.
When the commission reconvenes, another controversy may be on the way: Mayoral appointees Nancy Tung and Geoffrey Gordon-Creed will require approvals from the Board of Supervisors.
Tung recently ran for District Attorney as the “law and order” candidate — and was the recipient of $500 from the San Francisco Police Officers Association. Supervisor Hillary Ronen chairs the Board of Supervisors Rules Committee, which will make the initial votes on whether to advance Tung and Gordon-Creed. The advancement of these nominees left her worried and perplexed.
“There are literally hundreds of thousands of people to choose from,” Ronen told the Examiner. “Why [Breed] had to choose a controversial candidate for DA that disagrees with the majority of the Board of Supervisors on many criminal justice reform measures is beyond me.”
Gordon-Creed, a longtime private practice attorney, appears to be less controversial. Ronen raised concerns over his representing SFPD officers as a deputy city attorney.
Gordon-Creed told Mission Local that he had represented around 10 to 15 officers. However, he also said he represented the Office of Citizen Complaints, now the Department of Police Accountability, which investigates police misconduct, in a statute-of-limitations case on officer discipline.
He said he was “honored to be considered and nominated.”
Tung told Mission Local that she will soon meet with Ronen and make her case. Moreover, Tung said she’s committed to implementing the 272 reforms handed down by the Department of Justice three years ago — reforms the department has struggled to complete. Tung agreed that their implementation has moved too slowly.
Rather than be an inhibitor of reform, Tung said, “I see myself as a bridge between law enforcement and community to get those reforms done faster.”