SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today announced the release of the second interim progress report on the San Francisco Police Department’s (SFPD) collaborative reform efforts. The report outlines SFPD’s progress in implementing 272 recommendations previously issued by the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) with the goal of increasing public trust through improvements in policing practices, transparency, 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.
“My office is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to promote trust, transparency, and accountability in our criminal justice system,” said Attorney General Becerra. “I appreciate SFPD’s accomplishments to date and ongoing commitment to improvement. Much remains to be done to adequately document and communicate that progress. Now, more than ever, we must step up our collaborative efforts to take on this challenge and meet the high standard expected of those who are sworn to protect and serve our communities.”
“SFPD is undergoing an enormous transformation and we are grateful for our partnership with California Department of Justice and Hillard Heintze,” said SFPD Chief William Scott. “The technical assistance provided through this collaboration enables SFPD staff to address the many complex challenges associated with reform. As we enter Phase III of the collaborative process, we are committed to identifying strategies that will help accelerate this work and solidify our extraordinary achievements.”
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. The firm Hillard Heintze serves as the expert consultant. This second interim report, produced by Hillard Heintze and overseen by Cal DOJ, looks at SFPD’s progress under the second of three phases of the collaborative reform initiative. The work conducted under Phase I primarily focused on establishing procedures to show compliance with the 272 USDOJ recommendations.
Under Phase II of the collaborative review process, SFPD began to increase its focus on implementing recommendations and demonstrating compliance to Cal DOJ. So far, Cal DOJ has found SFPD to be substantially compliant with a total of 40 recommendations. SFPD has also submitted compliance packages on 61 other recommendations, but those recommendations require SFPD to provide additional information prior to Cal DOJ undertaking further review. Cal DOJ identified SFPD’s more recent increased pace of completion of compliance packages in Phase II as a positive development. However, Cal DOJ expressed concern with SFPD and its partnering authorities’ overall progress. Difficulties in implementing a higher number of the recommendations could delay the achievement of SFPD’s promise to the community to get this work done.
Many of the policy reforms adopted by SFPD demonstrate an effort to go above and beyond and, in many instances, be a leading police department on best practices by setting higher standards. For example, SFPD has drafted a Bias Free Policing Policy that is the first of its kind in California to address bias by proxy, which occurs when a member of the public makes a call for service based upon their own biases. SFPD’s reform efforts have also resulted in a notable decline in overall use of force since entering into the memorandum of understanding with Cal DOJ. However, Cal DOJ remains concerned with reports of anti-black sentiment within SFPD and the disproportionate use of force in stops involving people of color, a concern SFPD has also expressed. Phase III will require SFPD to focus on ensuring its actions in developing the reform recommendations are reported and supported by policies, protocols, and internal accountability.
Attorney General Becerra is committed to working to enhance public trust between law enforcement and the communities we strive to protect. Earlier this year, Attorney General Becerra announced an independent review of the Los Angeles Police Department’s policies and utilization of the CalGang system in light of reports of misconduct. Last year, Cal DOJ worked collaboratively with the Sacramento Police Department to issue a report and make recommendations on the department’s use of force policies, training, and practices. The Attorney General also reached a settlement with the Stockton Unified School District and its police department to address system-wide violations of the civil rights of minority students and students with disabilities. In addition, Cal DOJ recently launched a dashboard to give researchers, legislators, journalists, and all members of the public greater access to data reported under the Racial and Identity Profiling Act of 2015. This information is in addition to the annual criminal justice statistics released by Cal DOJ on OpenJustice, a data-driven initiative that embraces transparency to strengthen trust, enhance government accountability, and improve public policy in the criminal justice system.
Cal DOJ’s cover letter and the second interim report contain further details on the status of the 272 recommendations and information on other areas of improvement by SFPD over the last year. A copy of the report and letter is available here.