SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — The San Francisco Police Department is in the spotlight again for texts between officers that appear to mock the public outcry from a previous scandal where officers were accused of sending racist texts.
The texts were uncovered during a criminal investigation. The officers involved sent texts between 2014 and 2015 that made fun of criticism of an earlier text scandal, the San Francisco Examiner reported.
The earlier scandal came to light during a police corruption trial that uncovered racist and homophobic messages sent between 2011 and 2012 by a group of five officers.
Last year, District Attorney George Gascón formed a panel to investigate allegations of racism in the department and on Thursday said the problems go beyond isolated incidents. “This problem is more systemic and it needs to be addressed in a more deeper fashion,” said Gascón.
Gascón said investigators were going through evidence sent by the Police Department late last year related to the previous case and discovered the additional bigoted messages.
However, Gascón said his office was not notified of the additonal text messages and only learned of it late last week after sifting through the thousands of pages of messages themselves. “It was never pointed out to us,” Gascon said. “If the department knew about it, it’s a problem that we weren’t told,” he said.
Police Chief Greg Suhr disagreed, saying the department notified Gascon about the existence of the new text messages last year, and the five officers involved have either been fired or are in the process of being fired.
In a letter to Gascón Thursday, Suhr said, “For you to suggest that you discovered the text messages through your own criminal investigation would be disingenuous. This is not new information as our offices have been working closely on this case with at least three members of your staff to ensure the fair administration of justice.”
The San Francisco Police Officers Union responded Thursday, saying “The San Francisco Police Officers’ Association condemns the appalling racist behavior committed by a handful of officers. They have disgraced the uniform and their profession.”
San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi issued the following statement following the latest revelation: “In light of revelations that a second group of San Francisco police officers exchanged racist and homophobic text messages, my office will begin a full review of past cases that may have been tainted by these officers. I am also calling for an independent investigation into when the police chief and district attorney learned of the text messages. Every person in San Francisco deserves equal justice. It does them a grave disservice to dismiss every hateful act as an isolated incident. The police department must address the culture that lets racism fester in its ranks.”