In an effort to restore trust in the San Francisco Police Department in the wake of the killing of Mario Woods, Police Chief Greg Suhr and Mayor Ed Lee announced Monday that some major reforms would be coming to the department, including new training about de-escalation, the creation of a new bureau focused on "community-oriented policing," and changes in use-of-force protocols and equipment like Tasers and body cameras. But at the district attorney's blue-ribbon panel discussion Monday, which was focused on police bias and misconduct, DA George Gascon referred to the ongoing trouble of the SFPD's "old boy's club" that had only grown worse, and more entrenched, since he served as chief in 2009.
As the Chronicle reports, Gascon said he was "much more worried today" than he was in 2009 about the state of the department, and part of this has to do with the Old San Francisco mentality that has long headed up the department. "Most of the command staff were born and raised in the city," Gascon said. "Many went to the same schools. There was a tremendous amount of camaraderie... [and] there was a really tight-knit structure that precluded an objective look into the organization.”
Gascon and Suhr are basically at war at this point, with Gascon having said publicly that Suhr had been engaging in "a dizzying array of stonewalling tactics" to avoid cooperating with this blue-ribbon panel. Gascon also raised the issue of the text-message scandal, saying it "taints the entire criminal justice system" in the city, and undermines his ability to do his job, as the Examiner reports.
And, as has been discussed before, Suhr is trapped between the political forces in the Mayor's Office and those in the Police Officers' Association, whose president Marty Halloran came out swinging the moment anyone questioned the actions of officers in the December shooting of Woods which Mayor Lee has referred to as a "firing squad."
The new Bureau of Professional Standards and Principled Policing, as the Examiner explains, will be led by Deputy Chief Toney Chaplin and will focus on implementing any and all recommendations from the upcoming Department of Justice review.
Said Suhr in a Monday news conference, "The main goal in everything that we’ve been talking about is the sanctity of life, and the sanctity of life for everybody that everybody walks away whenever that can be possible."
KRON 4 has some video from the news conference below, and adds that Suhr told the assembled crowd, "For years we’ve been working as a police department with community members to foster trust. Without trust in the community we can’t do our jobs."
Union president Marty Halloran said that some of these sweeping changes will only put some of his officer members "in harm's way."
And if you care to read it, here is the full press release.