Attorney General Becerra Announces Release of First Interim Progress Report on San Francisco Police Department Reform Initiative

Thursday, May 16, 2019
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today announced the release of the first interim progress report on the San Francisco Police Department’s (SFPD) reform efforts. The report outlines SFPD’s progress in implementing recommendations previously made by the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) with the goal of increasing public trust through improvements in policing practices, transparency, professionalism, and accountability. The California Department of Justice (Cal DOJ) stepped in at the request of the City of San Francisco and SFPD after the Trump Administration abandoned police reform efforts overseen by USDOJ’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

“Enhancing public trust in law enforcement is a crucial part of making our communities safer,” said Attorney General Becerra. “While much work remains to be done, my office commends the City of San Francisco and SFPD for their willingness to engage openly and collaboratively in this reform process. Here in California, we will continue to work together to advance practices that truly strengthen our criminal justice system.”

“San Francisco invited the U.S. Department Justice in for an independent review of our police department in 2016, which led to 272 recommendations for reform,” said San Francisco Mayor London Breed. “SFPD has made significant progress towards changing policies and culture that will ultimately lead to greater trust between law enforcement and our diverse communities. There is still much more work ahead, and we are committed to fulfilling each and every reform recommendation and to meeting the high expectations our residents have for our police department.”

“The California Department of Justice brought to the reform process more cohesive, specific and transparent performance standards which we are applying to our work accomplished under the original CRI,” said San Francisco Police Chief William Scott. “This will provide a critical, independent eye to measure our transformation over the coming years. This report identifies key challenges ahead, but we’ve already made significant progress. Through this collaboration with Cal DOJ, we will provide more accountability to the public and ensure our success is sustainable.”

“On behalf of the San Francisco Police Commission, I am pleased to see the progress being made by the Police Department as it implements the many recommendations made by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2016,” said San Francisco Police Commission President Robert Hirsch. “With new Use of Force Policies in place, Body Worn Cameras in place, and Bias and Crisis Intervention training in place, the SFPD is moving forward as it seeks to become a model law enforcement agency in the country. The First Interim Report from consultant Hillard Heintze gives us all a view of where we currently are. We know there is much work ahead and challenges along the way; however this Police Commission is dedicated to continuing the reform effort and providing policy oversight which improves San Francisco's confidence in its Police Department.”

On February 5, 2018, Cal DOJ, the City and County of San Francisco, and SFPD entered into a memorandum of understanding in which Cal DOJ would provide technical assistance and independent evaluation of SFPD’s reform efforts. This first interim report, produced by Hillard Heintze and overseen by Cal DOJ, looks at SFPD’s progress under the first of three phases of the collaborative reform initiative. The bulk of the work conducted under Phase I focused on creating a framework for establishing a clear pathway to compliance with the 272 recommendations previously made by USDOJ. The report also notes areas where Cal DOJ has determined that SFPD has shown substantial compliance, such as:

  • Developing and training to a consistent reporting policy for the use of force;
  • Prohibiting the use of the 36-inch baton until all officers are properly trained in its intended use;
  • Requiring supervisors to respond to the scene following a use-of-force incident to increase oversight of such events;
  • Establishing standards for on-scene investigations of all officer use-of-force incidents; and
  • Issuing clear guidance denoting that there is no right to privacy for department-issued equipment, including cell phones.

Under the collaborative reform initiative, Hillard Heintze will prepare three reports: the current interim report, a second interim report that will tentatively be available in December 2019, and a third final report that will be released around May 2020. The first interim report is one part of an ongoing multi-year collaborative effort to address objectives in areas such as: use of force policies and practices; general policies, practices, and training to address issues of bias in policing; community-oriented policing strategies and protocols; policies and practices regarding accountability processes; and recruitment, hiring, and personnel practices.

Cal DOJ’s letter regarding the report to the City of San Francisco and SFPD and the full interim report are both available here.

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