There's only one item on the agenda for tonight's meeting of the San Francisco Police Commission: The draft of Department General Order 5.01, the new policy for SFPD's use of force. According to the SFPD, they want your opinion on that policy, and are hopeful that you'll show up to their conclave ready to talk.
As you are surely all too aware, the San Francisco Police Department has faced a significant amount of scrutiny following a series of increasingly questionable fatal shootings by officers, including (but not limited to) those of Alex Nieto, Mario Woods, Amilcar Perez-Lopez, Luis Gongora, and Jessica Williams.
It was the slaying of Williams, an unarmed woman shot by Sergeant Justin Erb as officers pulled her from an allegedly stolen car, that appeared to send efforts to reform the long-troubled department into high gear. Then-SFPD Chief Greg Suhr lost his job, after five years of promises and delays it looks like police will finally start wearing body cameras, and now the Department is mulling changes to their policies — with your feedback.
In a message sent to subscribers to SFPD's Park Station newsletter (which, I must say, is consistently the best newsletter read across the many stations of the SFPD), community members are asked to "join us for the Police Commission meeting...This is a community meeting to hear public comment on the proposed drafts of DGO 5.01, Use of Force."
According to the agenda posted to SFPD's website, the use of force policy is the only issue up for discussion tonight, as the "Discussion regarding Conductive Energy Devices" (a.k.a. Tasers) has been postponed to "a later date."
- At various places throughout the documents, version 1 uses the terms "should" or "should, when feasible," and version 2 used the terms "shall" or "shall, when feasible."
- Per Department General Order 3.02, Terms and Definitions, "should" means "permissive, but recommended," and "shall" means "mandatory."
- Throughout the documents, version 1 uses the term "imminent," and version 2 used the term "immediate."
- At various places throughout the documents, version 1 uses the term "reasonable," and version two uses the term "minimal."
- The opening paragraph in version 1 differs from the opening paragraph in version 2.
- Section I, D. Proportionality: The definition of proportionality in version 1 is different than the definition of proportionality in version 2.
- Section II, B: Version 1 defines the term "imminent threat," and version 2 defines the term "immediate threat."
- Section III, B. 3: This list of other factors that may determine reasonableness in version 1 differs from the list of other factors that may determine reasonableness in version 2.
- Section IV, C: In version 1, there are 2 explanatory items that delineate when an officer may use lethal force. In version 2, there are 3 explanatory items that delineate when an officer may use lethal force.
- Section V,A.: In version 2, the Carotid Restraint is prohibited. In version 1, the Carotid Restraint is an allowable force option and is described in Section V, G.
It's not immediately evident how either of these drafts differ from the policies currently in place. A call to SFPD to clarify this was not returned at publication time.
But perhaps they will answer this question at the meeting tonight? It will be held at the Smith Hall Cafeteria at the City College of San Francisco (50 Phelan). The meeting will begin at 6 p.m., but given the current interest in the topic, you're urged to arrive early to make sure you can nab a seat.