After a viral TikTok revealed that the San Francisco Central Police Station Twitter account had “liked” a website that made “a mockery” of George Floyd, Chief Bill Scott apologized and vowed at Wednesday’s Police Commission meeting to investigate the incident.
“The site is disrespectful and disgraceful, and personally, I find it offensive and disgusting,” Scott said. “Any social media association with this site, or any site similar to this, is a clear violation of our established SFPD social media policies.”
The San Francisco Central Police Station liked a Feb. 7 tweet from the Twitter account @FloydiesNFT, which links to NFTs of George Floyd. That account wrote on Feb. 4 that fellow “Floydies” are able to “come with an N-word pass” and can use the “hard ‘r.’” The Twitter account has roughly 6,600 followers.
This prompted police commissioners and the Department of Police Accountability on Wednesday to question how the police department was addressing a “culture of bias” and incidents on social media.
Department of Police Accountability Executive Director Paul Henderson told commissioners Wednesday that he was shocked to learn that the police had investigated earlier bias incidents without his knowledge. His department, he reminded them, is there to hold the police accountable.
“This is the first time any of that has been made transparent to me,” said Henderson, who appeared a bit miffed. He advocated for reports and investigations to be sent to his department.
The reaction came in response to Wednesday’s presentation by Capt. Mark Cota, who is the chief of staff of risk management for the SFPD. Cota delivered a quarterly audit that tracks potentially biased emails, texts and calls on police department-issued devices.
For the fourth quarter of 2021, the audit system flagged 114 emails, 67 calls and 25 texts that warranted further investigation by the Internal Affairs Department. After review, none were deemed as potentially biased by the SFPD’s internal affairs department.
Cota told Henderson that in the first two quarters of 2021, the Internal Affairs Department investigated four potential bias incidents as a result of the audit system. Cota did not elaborate on the four incidents, and Scott said “discipline has been imposed,” without providing details.
Still, Henderson said he wanted the reports and investigations sent to his department so that it can review and compare the police investigations with its own.
He also pointed out that the current audit system doesn’t catch social media posts or any interaction that’s not executed from or sent to a department-issued device.
For this reason, the incident at the Central Police Station may not end up on a department’s quarterly bias audit report, said Cota.
Henderson said his department “has been asking” the San Francisco Police Department for an outline regarding their social media policy repeatedly.
“We’ve had this ongoing for a while, and now may be the time for us to take action on something like this, especially because otherwise we just keep having this same report and this same result every single time,” he added.
Commissioner John Hamasaki suggested this may not be an isolated incident. He brought up how, just over a year ago, police liked potentially problematic tweets. While he didn’t go into specifics, Hamasaki was presumably referring to when the Tenderloin Police Station followed U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, a right-wing populist that some interpreted as connected to the Jan. 6 insurrection in Washington D.C.
“We need to change the culture. And I don’t know if that’s a discipline question. I think we’ve tried to do it as a discipline question, but it hasn’t succeeded,” Hamasaki said.
Earlier in the meeting, Scott condemned Central Police Station’s like of the “Floydies” site, and said that when he had followed up, it was unliked. “I want to say emphatically that I apologize to the public and Mr. Floyd’s family and friends for this incident, and any anguish that it caused,” he said. “This is a serious matter, and we will handle it accordingly.”