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The San Francisco Police Department could soon begin diverting non-violent police reports to alternate agencies in an effort to reduce unnecessary interactions and conflicts with officers.

The plan is just one segment of a larger reform roadmap announced Thursday by Mayor London Breed and Police Chief Bill Scott.

Applauding The City’s progress in implementing police reforms while noting that much more work still needs to be done, Breed said in a statement: 

“We know that a lack of equity in our society overall leads to a lot of the problems that police are being asked to solve. We are going to keep pushing for additional reforms and continue to find ways to reinvest in communities that have historically been underserved and harmed by systemic racism.”

Ching Wong/SFBay San Francisco Mayor London Breed gives a speech during a Justice for George Floyd rally at City Hall in San Francisco, Calif., on Monday, June 1, 2020. (Ching Wong/SFBay.ca)

City officials are eyeing a program called CAHOOTS in Eugene, Oregon as a model, which deploys crisis workers and a medic team in response to non-violent police calls.

The mayor said she also wants to demilitarize the police, address biases within the department, improve accountability and redirect department funding to marginalized communities and organizations.

The mayor is directing the Department of Human Resources, Department of Police Accountability and the Police Department to identify and screen for signs of bias.

Additionally, the Department of Human Resources will audit both the Police Department and Sheriff’s Department hiring and promotional exams, which are to include state-of-the-art screening to determine bias and potential for abuse of power.

The mayor and District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton have said they want to redirect funding from the Police Department budget to community organizations and programs, but have yet to identify a figure.

Nationwide, community activists and demonstrators have called for defunding police departments after the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.

Ching Wong/SFBay A woman holds up a portrait of George Floyd at a rally at City Hall in San Francisco, Calif., on Monday, June 1, 2020. (Ching Wong/SFBay.ca)

Breed has directed the Police Department to establish a policy that prohibits use of military-grade weapons — including but not limited to chemical agents, bayonets and tanks — against unarmed persons. 

The plan calls on the department to take stock of its inventory and create a plan to divest the department from such weapons by the end of 2021.

Supervisors are also working to craft legislation that would ban use of chemical weapons and rubber bullets by police officers during protests.

Supervisor Matt Haney, sponsor of the legislation, said Tuesday at a press conference said protestors should be able to speak out peacefully against police brutality without having weapons, like tear gas, being thrown at them. 

Haney said:

“They should be protected. They should not be attacked. They should not be gassed and they should not be shot.”

photographer Protesters keep social distancing while attending a Justice for George Floyd rally at City Hall in San Francisco, Calif., on Monday, June 1, 2020. (Ching Wong/SFBay.ca)

Also Thursday, Breed and Scott joined CNN commentator Van Jones and Malia Cohen, member of the Board of Equalization and former city supervisor, in a live discussion on social justice and police reform.

Scott said in a statement that the blueprint by the mayor is consistent with the recommendations in the Collaborative Reform Initiative initially handed down by the U.S. Department of Justice but now managed by the state’s DOJ. A recent state report found that SFPD has sufficiently implemented 40 of 272 recommended reforms.

Scott said:

“We understand that it’s necessary for law enforcement to listen to the African American community and embrace courageous changes to address disparate policing practices, and we recognize it will take sacrifice on our part to fulfill the promise of reform.”

Jerold Chinn
Jerold Chinn covers transportation and City Hall in San Francisco for SF Bay. Email: jerold@sfbay.ca. Twitter: @Jerold_Chinn. Instagram: jeroldwashere.

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