District Attorney Chesa Boudin held a press conference on Feb. 3. Photo by Eleni Balakrishnan.

The San Francisco Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office have agreed to let a key police accountability agreement remain in place, for now.

The Memorandum of Understanding allowing the DA’s office to be the lead investigator on police use-of-force incidents was set to expire today. Without such an agreement in place, the police department could revert to conducting its own investigations, which raises questions about oversight and accountability.

The police department and the DA’s office have fought openly about the Memorandum for weeks, with each side accusing the other of violating it. 

Police Chief Bill Scott and District Attorney Chesa Boudin met with representatives from the State Attorney General’s office at City Hall Tuesday afternoon, where they agreed to an extension of the current deal for 60 business days. The DA’s office will continue to lead use-of-force investigations until at least May 20.  

“I’m glad that cooler heads prevailed and that the MOU will stay in place, because it’s a critical, effective and necessary agreement,” Boudin told Mission Local. “We all agree it can be improved.” 

“This interim agreement assures accountability and transparency for police as well as prosecutors, affirming the promise of the 21st century policing reforms we’re pursuing for the San Franciscans we serve,” Police Chief Scott in a statement Wednesday. 

The Police Department and DA cemented a years-long deal in 2019, naming the District Attorney’s office as the lead investigator in police use-of-force incidents. In 2021, both sides agreed to renew the deal. But, several weeks ago, Scott unilaterally withdrew from the memorandum after accusing the DA of withholding evidence in its investigation of Officer Terrance Stangel, who is currently on trial for beating a man with a baton. An investigator with the DA’s office testified that her superiors pressured her not to cooperate with the police. San Francisco Superior Court Judge Teresa M. Caffese, who is presiding over that trial, said that the evidence in question was irrelevant and duplicative. 

While the memorandum remains in place for now, the contentiousness between the two city agencies is far from over. A new memorandum still needs to be rewritten, both parties agree, and “serious disputes” remain.

Boudin said that he and Scott are searching for third-party meditators to help their offices draft a new memorandum. Both sides are checking the availability of mutually agreed-upon mediators, like retired judges, who would take over the process in the coming weeks. 

“There’s next steps for each of us. We want to make sure that we can bring them any real disputes and hopefully that dispute can inform the language that goes into the MOU,” Boudin said. 

Boudin said the State Attorney General’s Office will continue providing guidance on language for a new agreement until a mediator is found. 

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REPORTER. Annika Hom is our inequality reporter through our partnership with Report for America. Annika was born and raised in the Bay Area. She previously interned at SF Weekly and the Boston Globe where she focused on local news and immigration. She is a proud Chinese and Filipina American. She has a twin brother that (contrary to soap opera tropes) is not evil.

Follow her on Twitter at @AnnikaHom.

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  1. I guess Scott’s not going to face any repercussions for spewing lies in the media to influence an ongoing criminal trial and recall politics.

    SF needs to bust the SFPOA or nothing is going to change at the SFPD.