SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The San Francisco police chief wants eight of his officers fired in the wake of a scandal involving racist and homophobic text messages.
Chief Greg Suhr held a news conference Friday afternoon for about an hour. He announced in light of the scandal he’ll be randomly selecting officers to check to see if they’ve missed any red flags in their background checks.
“It just makes me sick to even talk about it,” Suhr said.
Suhr told reporters that the eight officers, including a captain, who were caught exchanging the inappropriate texts do not belong in his department.
“I have suspended them and they have been referred to the police commission with the recommendation of only termination,” he said.
In all, 14 officers were reprimanded for their actions.
Suhr said two other officers engaged in the text messages, but to a lesser degree and their messages were deemed less inflammatory. These two officers have been reassigned to non-public contact positions. Their cases will go before the Police Commission, which can discipline them up to termination.
The remaining four officers violated public policy and face discipline by the chief, which could involve being suspend for up to 10 days.
The texts came to light last month during a federal bail hearing for another officer looking to appeal his public corruption conviction.
Suhr wouldn’t directly answer whether these texts were indicative of a culture of racism in the department.
His afternoon announcement was just one of several scandals he addressed, including the investigation into a crime lab analyst and supervisor accused of failing to tell investigators if suspects’ DNA matched criminal profiles in a federal database.
“Is it there could well be suspects that we should have gotten identified, that we should be conducting investigations on?” Suhr asked.
District Attorney George Gascon called the findings “repulsive.”
“In my entire 30-year-plus career in law enforcement, these are some of the worst allegations I have seen,” he said.
Gascon created a task force to look into all of the allegations. This comes as public defender Jeff Adachi threatens to bring back 1,000 cases in the last 10 years back to court.
“Because the evidence of these racist texts affect the credibility of the officers, any case where the question was raised as to whether the officer was telling the truth has to be looked at again,” Adachi said.
Suhr said he is well aware of how his department appears to the public right now, but he insists his mission is to repair its image.
“The trust in our police department is not lost on me that it’s taken a major hit, and we will do everything we can to rebuild that trust,” he said.
Adachi and other critics maintain the culture of racism is rampant in the department, but it’s not clear how to effectively change those attitudes through legislation.
As far as those crime lab workers, they were off the job when they failed a basic exam last year. Police are now looking into 1,400 cases they handled.