San Francisco Police Department Attempts Reform But Still Falls Short

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San Francisco Police Department Attempts Reform But Still Falls Short

In the past years, the San Francisco Police Department has attempted to implement a series of reforms, both in response to Department of Justice recommendations and a comprehensive plan from Mayor Tweed. The Mayor’s plan attempted to address four main goals, although the results have been mixed. Attorney David M. Helbraun has won verdicts and settlements for victims of police misconduct.

Police departments must follow federal civil rights laws, and even the California criminal code. The SFPD can be civilly liable to you in a lawsuit if they have broken the law. Attorney David M. Helbraun works to hold law enforcement accountable if they have violated your civil rights, or they have injured you.

David M. Helbraun has successfully represented clients in numerous police misconduct cases, including lawsuits related to excessive use of force and illegal searches. Contact an experienced Police Misconduct Lawyer if you or a loved one have been a victim of law enforcement misconduct.

An Overview of the SF Police Reform Model

San Francisco has been working to reform its police force for the better part of a decade. The United States Department of Justice had found that the SFPD had engaged in a pattern of bias against minorities when it investigated after officers killed a man using unnecessary force. Since that time, the SFPD has been working to implement the DOJ’s recommendations.

In addition, the SFPD is also following through on a reform model introduced by Mayor Breed in 2020, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. The Mayor released a Roadmap addressing four key areas for the SFPD to follow.

Removing Police Officers from Responding to Non-Criminal Calls

One of the key parts of the police reform model is eliminating the need for officers to respond to non-criminal situations. The SFPD is working to implement a pilot program where a “Street Crisis Response Team” responds to non-criminal calls, eliminating the need for officers to serve as first responders in these situations. The SCRT has responded to over 14,000 calls, but recent changes have taken mental health professionals off these teams, even when some calls involve acute crises.

Demilitarization of the Police Force

From an equity perspective, the SFPD has been focused on eliminating certain extreme usage of force. The reform model called for the demilitarization of the police. Certain military-type weapons, such as tanks, bayonets and tear gas can no longer be used against unarmed civilians. The police force must also disconnect itself from federal grants that give this equipment to departments across the country.

Redirecting Funding for Racial Equity

The police reform plan also included a provision to take money from the police force and shift it to other priorities. The plan was supposed to invest $120 million in communities that have been harmed by the SFPD’s past practices. The money was to be invested in programs and organizations that help these communities.

Addressing Police Bias and Strengthening Accountability

The reform plan also aimed to deal with police bias systemically by detecting bias indicators in prospective or existing officers. Both hiring and promotion exams now have questions that are specifically aimed to screen for bias. In addition, the reform plan strengthened early intervention for use of force violations among officers.

In line with these goals, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors recently voted to eliminate certain types of low-level traffic stops. In the past, police had been using these types of traffic stops to profile minorities. Now, police cannot stop motorists for having an outdated registration or properly displaying their tags.

The City and Police Department Are Not Always Following Through

In spite of the plan, many have said that the city is not entirely keeping up with its promises. The city has only partially shifted its spending in light of the plan, maintaining more funding for law enforcement. In addition, in the wake of the City’s recall of the District Attorney, the successor has increased the number of prosecutions and has diverted fewer cases to alternative programs. Thus, the realities of actual policing in San Francisco may conflict with the aims of the reform.

Further, while the instances of use of force have declined, police are 13 times more likely to use force on a Black person. Thus, the same problems that created the need for reform in the first place still exist throughout the city.

Contact a San Francisco Police Misconduct Attorney Today

A police misconduct lawyer at Helbraun Law Firm is ready to help you, investigating what the police officer did and filing a lawsuit on your behalf if necessary. To speak with an experienced San Francisco police misconduct attorney, call us today at (415) 982-4000 or send us a message online.

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