By Metyia Phillips
SAN FRANCISCO – Peace officers with a known history of serious police misconduct cannot be hired by the San Francisco Police Dept. or the San Francisco Sheriff’s Dept. under a revolutionary resolution introduced here by SF District Attorney Chesa Boudin and District 10 Supervisor Shermann Walton.
Motivated by the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and to protect the citizens—especially people of color—from police misconduct, the measure urges the SF Civil Service Commission not to hire dangerous peace officers.
It is co-sponsored by Supervisors Hillary Ronen, Aaron Peskin, Matt Haney, Dean Preston, Sandra Lee Fewer, and Norman Yee.
George Floyd was murdered on May 25 by a Minneapolis police officer who used deadly, excessive force. The officer, Derek Chauvin, was seen on video with his knee on Floyd’s neck. Floyd, after saying multiple times, “I can’t breathe,” later died after 8 minutes and 26 seconds with the officer pushing down on his neck.
Chauvin already had 17 prior complaints, including police brutality complaints. The lack of accountability for Chauvin’s 17 prior complaints led to the untimely death of George Floyd—that is why, said DA Boudin, the resolution was created.
“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 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?” he added.
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; dishonesty related to the reporting, investigation, or prosecution of a crime or misconduct of another officer.
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.”
This is because many officers tend to resign from their law enforcement jobs during an investigation into their conduct, to end the investigation before a decision is made. And they then get jobs in other jurisdictions without anyone knowing their true record.
Supervisor Walton explained that this resolution is an attempt to stop the disproportionate targeting of the Black community and other people of color, noting, “Data demonstrates 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.”
“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 Yoel Haile, Criminal Justice Program Manager at the ACLU of Northern California.
He added, “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.”
Scott Roberts, Senior Director of Criminal Justice Campaigns 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.”
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