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Chief admits SFPD needs to pick up reform pace

San Francisco police are aiming to pick up the pace on 272 reforms called for by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2016, as the department may be only 40 percent done, police said Wednesday.

Though some progress has been made, 163 of the 272 tasks have yet to be submitted. Forty-eight are essentially done and a total of 109 have been submitted for review.

Police Chief Bill Scott said:

“We have to have a sense of urgency.”

Reforms were started in 2016 following a series of police killings that resulted in the resignation of former police Chief Greg Suhr. When Donald Trump was elected president, the DOJ ended its reform work with the San Francisco Police Department.

The effort picked back up in 2018 with the California Department of Justice and security risk management firm Hillard Heintze, which was contracted by the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct a review of the SFPD in 2016.

Despite the slow progress, some positive changes have been reported.

Since 2016, overall use of force incidents dropped 56 percent to 1,649 and the number of times an officer pointed a gun at someone dropped by 67 percent to 868 incidents.

Those improvements, Scott said, haven’t reduced crime per se, but they likely will build trust and faith in police, who can solve more crimes as people come forward to provide information to officers.

Also, Scott said that even though 163 reforms have yet to be completed, police have already changed policies to reflect the reforms they will seek official approval for.

Sometimes, Scott said, the department has implemented changes that have gone over and above recommendations. The California Department of Justice is scheduled to release its second report Wednesday showing progress San Francisco police have made around use of force, bias, transparency and accountability and community policing.

Scott said:

“SFPD is undergoing an enormous transformation and we are grateful for our partnership with California Department of Justice and Hillard Heintze.”

The chief added:

“The technical assistance provided through this collaboration enables SFPD staff to address the many complex challenges associated with reform. As we enter Phase III of the collaborative process, we are committed to identifying strategies that will help accelerate this work and solidify our extraordinary achievements.”

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