by Natalie Gee
San Francisco – Today, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin and Supervisor Shamann Walton announced a resolution motivated by the murder of George Floyd to protect the public and particularly people of color from police misconduct. The resolution urges the San Francisco Civil Service Commission to prohibit the San Francisco Police Department and San Francisco Sheriff’s Department from hiring officers with a known history of serious police misconduct. Supervisors Hillary Ronen, Aaron Peskin, Matt Haney, Dean Preston, Sandra Lee Fewer and Norman Yee are cosponsors of the resolution.
“Across the nation, we have seen the repeated failures of our legal system to hold police accountable for the violence, abuse and even murders committed against people of color and especially Black people,” said District Attorney Boudin. “The resolution would hold San Francisco law enforcement to a higher standard of professionalism and prevent officers with a history of profiling or excessive force from working in our city. Our Black and Brown community members deserve to feel safe – and how can any of us feel safe when local law enforcement agencies are allowed to hire officers with prior serious misconduct?”
Supervisor Walton explained the need for the resolution. “It is important that we do not allow individuals with a proven track record of misconduct to become a part of any of our law enforcement bodies in San Francisco,” Supervisor Walton said. “Data demonstrate that officers who kill Black people and continue to commit excessive force on Black people and people of color have a history of misconduct and excessive force complaints. We cannot allow these individuals an opportunity to mistreat our residents.”
The resolution urges the Civil Service Commission to require the disqualification of any police officer applicant with a sustained finding of serious misconduct, such as excessive force; racial bias; discrimination based on race, national origin, gender or sexual orientation; or dishonesty related to the reporting, investigation or prosecution of a crime or misconduct of another officer.
Some officers facing an investigation into their conduct resign so as to terminate the investigation before a finding is reached. To address this loophole and keep San Franciscans safe, the resolution also disqualifies any officer who leaves a law enforcement job during the course of a serious misconduct investigation, unless the officer has been exonerated.
The need for this resolution was made apparent by the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police Department Officer Derek Chauvin. Chauvin kneeled on Mr. Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes as he struggled to breathe and cried for help.
During his time on the police force, Chauvin had faced at least 17 prior complaints, including of police brutality. Chauvin had also been involved in numerous officer-involved shootings, including an incident in which he fatally shot someone. Despite these complaints, violent incidents and at least one reprimand, Chauvin was allowed to remain on the police force. That lack of accountability for Chauvin led to the death of George Floyd.
George Floyd was the most recent in a series of high-profile killings of Black people by police officers across the nation. As a result, protests have erupted in support of racial justice and condemning police brutality and misconduct. Much of the protest centers around demands for police accountability. This resolution will provide much-needed public assurances that the San Francisco Police Department and Sheriff’s Department do not hire officers known to have committed serious misconduct or who avoided an investigation into any allegations by resigning.
“This resolution is an important step in the right direction in preventing officers who have committed brutality, discrimination and other serious misconduct from serving in San Francisco,” said Criminal Justice Program Manager Yoel Haile at the ACLU of Northern California. “For far too long, officers who have committed egregious violations against the public while wearing the badge, including racist violence, have been permitted to hop from department to department and continue abusing the people they are supposed to protect.”
Senior Director of Criminal Justice Campaigns Scott Roberts at Color Of Change, the largest online racial justice organization in the country, praised the resolution, explaining: “San Francisco District Attorney Boudin’s resolution is an important first step that acknowledges that violence should have no role in law enforcement and that the actions of police officers must have consequences. We must continue to push for systemic reforms that will protect Black communities, communities of color and all people in our country.”
Natalie Gee, chief of staff for San Francisco District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Watch the press conference at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1BwMNf-3cXLGLLHier6drZLU0mEVuJRM3/view?usp=sharin g.