SAN FRANCISCO—In February, San Francisco Police Commission President Suzy Loftus requested the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Commission Oriented Policing Office of Commission to do an initial review of the Commission’s current Use of Force policies, according to a press release from the San Francisco Police Department. On Friday, May 6, the U.S. Department of Justice provided some preliminary feedback on the revised policies.
The Department of Justice sent a memo with the policy suggestions and commended both the SFPD and the Commission for “developing, reviewing and finalizing the use of force policies with community and stakeholder input. This process not only allows the community to have a voice, but also provides a stronger, more comprehensive policy. Furthermore, the process provides accountability and transparency regarding policy development.”
The Commission held meetings in January to gather community feedback on the existing policies in Tenderloin, Western Addition and Bayview. In February and March, a stakeholder group was convened by the Commission to give feedback. The draft policies with the community and stakeholder feedback were sent to the Department of Justice for review in March.
Many suggestions were made by the Department of Justice including descriptions of levels of force and authorized weapons to be spelled out. It was also advised to consider a number of Action Items from President Obama’s 21st Century Policing Task Force including items like “to emphasize de-escalation and alternatives to arrest or summons in situations where appropriate.”
“I am appreciative that DOJ was willing to give us preliminary feedback on these policy reforms while their larger effort to evaluate and prepare final recommendations continues” said Police Commission President, Suzy Loftus. “The Police Commission is committed to fundamentally re-engineering the use of force in San Francisco and DOJ has proven to be a trusted partner in this effort. I am taking their preliminary comments and items for consideration to the full Commission this week on Wednesday, May 11th. I look forward to continuing our collaborative work to ensure that San Francisco has a 21st Century Police Department.”
The Commission will discuss the preliminary feedback and the Action Items this week. After the discussion there will be two public meetings held on the Use of Force policy revisions on June 8 and June 15. The locations for these meetings have yet to be announced. The policies will come before the full Police Commission for a vote.