SF Supervisors have failed to act on SFPD failure to complete DOJ COPS by California DOJ deadline

by Phelicia Jones, founder, Wealth and Disparities in the Black Community

We are urging San Franciscans to contact the Supervisor for their district and to call into the Tuesday, May 25, 2021, Board of Supervisors (BOS) Committee of the Whole to demand the BOS act in holding the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) accountable to the Department of Justice (DOJ) Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) reform recommendations mandated by the federal DOJ in 2016. 

Wealth and Disparities in the Black Community made a presentation to the BOS on Oct. 20, 2020, citing grave concerns about the ongoing lack of action by the BOS and other city officials regarding continued targeting of Black San Franciscans by police. At that hearing, several supervisors expressed concern, and all of them agreed to meet with us afterward. 

Yet – what has the BOS done to improve conditions? We have not been franchised back into the conversation since October 2020. The upcoming May 25, 2021, BOS hearing was meant to be an evaluation of the completion of (substantial compliance with) the 272 DOJ COPS recommendations by SFPD – but only 175 were completed as of the deadline on April 30. 

No more empty messaging from the BOS and no more lip service! Hold our leaders accountable on SFPD use of force against Black San Franciscans! Make public comment at the Tuesday, May 25, 2-5 p.m., SF Board of Supervisors meeting on continued City oversight of SFPD DOJ COPS! SFPD has failed to complete 272 DOJ COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) reforms recommended by the U.S. Department of Justice and endorsed by Wealth and Disparities. The meeting begins at 2 p.m. The hearing on SFPD and DOJ COPS begins at 3 p.m. Public comment is estimated for 3:30-5 p.m. Watch SF Cable Channel 26, 78 or 99 (depending on your provider) at www.sfgovtv.org, and participate in the public comment. The call-in line is 415-655-0001. Meeting ID is 187 495 2677 # #.

What will be done? Nothing has been done by the BOS from our presentation October 2020 to date – apart from Supervisor Safai taking language from the letter we wrote and using it to begin drafting a resolution which has been in the draft phases for over two months, leveraging much of our verbiage but not acknowledging our unique role as the sole community group working on the issue of SFPD’s anti-Black policing and DOJ COPS recommendations for more than five years. 

The BOS has been focused on crafting words to say to the public but not on actually improving the lives of Black San Franciscans, who continue to be terrorized by police. 

The 2016 DOJ COPS analysis followed a spate of suspicious deadly officer involved shootings, disproportionately killing Black and Brown San Franciscans. In that DOJ evaluation (DOJ COPS) were 94 findings and 272 recommendations. The City and County of San Francisco in 2016 agreed to the completion of ALL 272 DOJ COPS recommendations. However, as of the latest extended deadline of April 30, 2021 by the California DOJ – SFPD had marked fewer than 65 percent substantially compliant. 

Black San Franciscans are more than 10 times as likely to be arrested or subject to use of force as are white San Franciscans and more than four times as likely as Hispanic San Franciscans.

Black San Franciscans continue to suffer outrageous disproportionate outcomes from San Francisco’s racist policing. Dante King, who trained officers at SFPD, said in December 2020, “[T]here are both covert and underlying tenets of disdain, resentment, disrespect and anger towards Black people overall and especially Black people who reside in San Francisco’s institutionally and structurally racist impoverished communities.” 

San Francisco is still one of the worst cities in the United States for anti-Black racist policing, continuing to make national headlines as of 2021 and inspiring renewed calls for a federal investigation. According to per capita analysis against the latest quarterly statistics reported by SFPD, Black San Franciscans are more than 10 times as likely to be arrested or subject to use of force as are white San Franciscans and more than four times as likely as Hispanic San Franciscans. The racial categories cited are SFPD’s own. 

All this despite the fact that SFPD has been under a reforms oversight process by the California DOJ’s office – first under AG Xavier Becerra and most recently AG Rob Bonta – for years, since 2018. Yet there has been NO improvement in terms of anti-Black racially disparate policing in San Francisco. 

Phelicia Jones is the founder of Wealth and Disparities in the Black Community, an organization fighting for justice for Mario Woods and other victims of police violence and for racial equity in San Francisco. Contact them via phone (650) 245-5396 and email mwjusticenow@gmail.com.