Mayor London Breed Announces Roadmap for New Police Reforms
Additional reforms will focus on eliminating the need for police to be first responders for non-criminal situations and changing hiring, promotional, training, and disciplinary systems
San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed today announced her vision to fundamentally change the nature of policing in San Francisco and issued a set of policies to address structural inequities. She proposed four priorities to achieve this vision: ending the use of police in response to non-criminal activity; addressing police bias and strengthening accountability; demilitarizing the police; and promoting economic justice. These policies build on the City’s ongoing work to meet the standards contained in President Obama’s 2015 Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
“San Francisco has made progress reforming our police department, but we know that we still have significant work to do,” said Mayor Breed. “We know that a lack of equity in our society overall leads to a lot of the problems that police are being asked to solve. We are going to keep pushing for additional reforms and continue to find ways to reinvest in communities that have historically been underserved and harmed by systemic racism.”
“The initiatives Mayor Breed is announcing today are consistent with our department’s commitment to the Collaborative Reform Initiative and our aspiration to make the San Francisco Police Department a national model in 21st Century policing,” said San Francisco Chief of Police Bill Scott. “We understand that it’s necessary for law enforcement to listen to the African American community and embrace courageous changes to address disparate policing practices, and we recognize it will take sacrifice on our part to fulfill the promise of reform.”
This reform effort will focus on reducing the need for police to be first responders for non-criminal situations, and changing the Police Department’s hiring, promotional, training, and disciplinary systems to better reflect that the department’s fundamental mission to protect and defend all life. It will also focus on demilitarizing the police and redirecting funding to invest in marginalized communities. These reforms will be implemented on an ongoing basis, with some changes going into effect immediately.
These four priorities build on San Francisco’s ongoing police reforms, including efforts to limit use of force and require independent investigations. San Francisco has already implemented several best practices that have been shown to reduce police violence including banning chokeholds and strangleholds, requiring de-escalation, requiring a warning before shooting, and exhausting all other means before shooting. Additionally, San Francisco requires officers to intervene in cases of excessive use of force, bans shooting at moving vehicles, requires officers to use the minimum amount of force necessary when force is used, and requires comprehensive reporting.
Mayor Breed has directed San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) to establish an explicit policy barring the use of military-grade weapons against unarmed civilians. This includes, but is not limited to, chemical weapons such as tear gas, bayonets, and tanks. This plan will call on SFPD to inventory and plan how to divest the Department of any such weapons currently in their possession by the end of 2021, and to create safeguards to disconnect the SFPD from federal grants for weapons of attack used against the community.
End Use of Police as a Response to Non-Criminal Activity
In order to limit unnecessary confrontation between the SFPD and the community, San Francisco will work to divert non-violent calls for service away from SFPD to non-law enforcement agencies. Over the next year, the City will develop a systematic response plan to improve direct connection to community-based or City service providers, such as the CAHOOTS model of crisis response or the Homeless Outreach Team or Street Medicine behavioral health professionals. This plan will also reduce the need for armed police interventions in our schools.
Address Police Bias and Strengthen Accountability
To reduce the persistence of police bias, the Mayor has directed the Department of Human Resources, Department of Police Accountability, and SFPD to identify and screen for indicators of bias, improve training systems, improve data sharing across Departments, and strengthen the SFPD’s Early Intervention System for use of force violations.
Starting immediately, the Department of Human Resources will audit all SFPD and San Francisco Sheriff hiring and promotional exams to incorporate state-of-the-art testing for bias and potential for abuse of force. Moving forward, the SFPD and Police Commission will also strengthen the affirmative duty to act policy and tie any violation to transparent disciplinary action.
The Mayor has also directed the Department of Police Accountability to expand their focus beyond individual instances of misconduct, using the Department’s chartered authority to evaluate patterns and practice of bias within the SFPD.
Redirect Funding for Racial Equity
Mayor Breed has announced that divestments from law enforcement will support intentional investment of funds in programs and organizations that serve communities that have been systematically harmed by past City policies.
Decades of disinvestment in the African-American community and racially disparate policies in San Francisco have exacerbated disproportionate harm in Black communities, affecting outcomes from health and wellness to housing insecurity and economic outcomes. On June 4, Mayor Breed and Supervisor Shamann Walton announced a plan to prioritize the redirection of resources from the San Francisco Police Department to support the African-American community in the upcoming budget. They will lead a collaborative process with the community in partnership with the Human Rights Commission to help identify and prioritize funding needs.