By David M. Greenwald
San Francisco, CA – Weeks after the San Francisco Police Chief unilaterally pulled out of an MOU on Police Use of Force Investigations, the Chief and DA have agreed to a 60-day extension.
As part of the extension, the District Attorney’s Office and the Police Department have agreed to engage an independent mediator, such as a retired judge, to review and resolve any current or ongoing disputes.
The existing MOU with the addition of the independent mediator is currently set to remain in effect through May 20, 2022, providing the parties an opportunity to renegotiate and strengthen the MOU.
“SFPD and DA remain committed to negotiating a new MOU,” the extension agreement states.
In the agreement, “SFPD and the DA shall agree to a third-party mediator, preferably retired judge.” Either side “may request that the Mediator review a particular dispute.”
In addition, “For the purpose of identifying and resolving all grievances related to MOU violations, both SFPD and DA shall, to the extent possible, exchange by March 23, 2022, an index of case files related to covered incidents and their corresponding ancillary investigations covered under the 2019 or 2021 MOU.”
In early February, Chief Scott pulled out of the MOU with the District Attorney citing concerns about the office withholding information.
At the time, Scott believed “the spirit and the letter of MOU processes and procedures we agreed upon have not been followed by the DA’s Office.”
“We remain committed to the independent investigation of officer use of force incidents and are optimistic about our ongoing discussions on revising the MOU,” said San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin in a statement on Wednesday. “The extension is a common sense approach to give us the necessary time to solidify this critical agreement. We are thankful for the assistance of the Attorney General’s Office and the City Attorney in protecting police accountability in San Francisco.”
“This interim agreement assures accountability and transparency for police as well as prosecutors, affirming the promise of the 21st century policing reforms we’re pursuing for the San Franciscans we serve,” said Chief of Police William Scott.
He added, “This 60-day extension puts in place an independent mediator to monitor both parties’ conduct and resolve extremely serious disputes that emerged in recent weeks. We are grateful to Attorney General Bonta and his team; Mayor Breed and her team; and City Attorney Chiu and his team for their efforts to bring SFPD and the SFDA’s office together to reach this interim agreement and put us on track toward an MOU that all San Franciscans can have confidence in.”
“Independent, fair investigations are a cornerstone for public trust in policing,” said California Attorney General Rob Bonta. “I welcome these renewed efforts and commitments to ensure there is a process in place in San Francisco that helps build and maintain trust between law enforcement and the communities we serve. Today’s announcement is an important step forward for public safety, consistency for officers, and all San Franciscans. I’m thankful for the work of all of our partners at the local level to help secure this timely resolution and I look forward to the continued collaboration ahead.”
“This extension represents another positive step towards ensuring that we have independent oversight in police use of force cases while maintaining a transparent and fair process for those being investigated,” said San Francisco Mayor London Breed. “San Francisco is a national leader on police reform and everyone involved in this process is committed to seeing that progress continue. I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to find a resolution to this issue and I want to thank our partners for their collaboration.”
“I am pleased with the work that has been done by all parties to secure this extension,” said San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu. “We all share a commitment to maintaining public safety and ensuring independent investigations of use of force incidents. While there is much work ahead, this extension gives us time to address outstanding issues and come together for the good of all San Franciscans.”
“I applaud the agreement to extend the MOU between SFPD and the District Attorney’s Office for 60 days,” said San Francisco Police Commission President Malia Cohen. “Fair, unbiased, and independent review of officer-involved use of force incidents is a critical element of all of our reform initiatives, and is also absolutely necessary to ensure public confidence. This extension will allow for mediation of issues, while remaining faithful to our commitment to police reform without interruption.”
The announcement follows efforts by all the parties “to work swiftly and collaboratively to address the significant issues of compliance, accountability, and mutual expectations regarding the MOU, which has been an important tool for advancing transparency and accountability in San Francisco.”
A copy of the 60-day extension agreement is available here.