SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – In a new series of radio ads, the union representing San Francisco police officers has come out swinging against what they see as anti-police sentiment.
“It has become a catch phrase for every anti-law enforcement zealot and shows a willful blindness to the demographic of crime,” the ad said in part. “When our officers respond to call for service, the victims are oftentimes people of color. We speak for them.”
The new ads from the San Francisco Police Officers’ Association are a sharp departure from past ads that boasted the department’s diversity.
Police union president Marty Halloran told KPIX 5, “The topics that we are dealing with are not necessarily touchy-feely. These are issues that are at the forefront of the public’s attention and we’re going to get our message out.”
Still, a 2013 report from the Public Defender’s office found that while blacks make up only 6 percent of the city’s adult population, they represent 40 percent of the people arrested and convicted.
“We’re not responding because this person is an individual of color,” Halloran said.
When asked about stops on the street, Halloran responded, “We are responding to the criminal activity that is going on out there.”
“There seems to be an anti-law enforcement rhetoric that is sweeping this country,” Halloran said.
KPIX 5’s Phil Matier asked Supervisor David Campos about the ad. “I don’t think President Obama is an anti-law enforcement zealot,” Campos said. “Racial profiling is one of those things that you have to take seriously.”
Mayor Ed Lee also weighed in. “I think it’s their strong attempt to make sure they know a police department is aware of things that people to say,” Lee said. “And I think they have every right to voice their opinion.”
Matier asked the mayor if he thought racial profiling is going on in San Francisco. “No I don’t believe there is racial profiling, but know there are mistakes,” the mayor said.
The ad campaign also comes on the wake of scandal involving racist texts between a small group of officers.
Gary Delagnes, who used to be the head of the police officers’ union, recorded the ad.
The message has also drawn criticism from police themselves. In a letter to the union, the president of the African-American Officers for Justice called the ad “brash, callous, overbearing and inaccurate…” and “demonstrates a lack of experience with in conferring with minorities.”