State to oversee ongoing SFPD reforms


The California Department of Justice will now oversee the ongoing police reforms in San Francisco after the U.S. Department of Justice announced last year that they no longer wanted to work with The City on those efforts.

On Monday, city and state officials announced the new collaboration in an effort to continue to have independent eyes monitoring the policy changes being made in the in the department

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the new collaboration is a sign city officials want to get the work done. He said that just because the federal government abandoned working with The City did not mean the state would do the same:

“At the end of the day, the people of the City and County of San Francisco are going to be big winners here because we picked up ball and we’re going to run with it.”

Becerra said:

“Accountability, transparency confidence and trust. They all come from giving people a sense that there will be an independent review of the work that is being done.”

The City began its collaboration with the feds in 2016 when Mayor Ed Lee asked the U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the U.S. Department of Justice to review the department’s policies, including specifically looking at the department’s use-of-force policies.

The U.S. DOJ sent to the request to the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, which signed an agreement with The City to have independent monitoring teams look over police policies. The team reported 94 findings and 272 recommendations.

Police Chief Bill Scott said more than half of the recommendations are either implemented or in the approval process. Since the implementation of some of the reforms, use-of-force incidents dropped 18 percent in 2017.

Citizen complaints against police officers have dropped 9 percent.

Scott said:

“It’s really important that the public sees from an independent review, an independent eye, of what we’re doing.”

SFPD and the California DOJ plan to enter into a memorandum of understanding so the independent review process can begin

Supervisor Malia Cohen said of the new MOU with the California DOJ:

“It brings us one step closer to bringing truth and transparency, to heal the riffs that we have been experiencing for generations.”

Jerold Chinn
Jerold Chinn is the San Francisco Bureau Chief of SFBay. A San Francisco native, he has spent a decade covering transportation in San Francisco. He has produced stories for the San Francisco Public Press and Ingleside Light. Send tips to or at Twitter @Jerold_Chinn.

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