SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — San Francisco’s police officer union is running radio ads blasting the police department and city for pulling out of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), claiming the SFPD was not involved in the recent FBI investigation into the alleged Pier 39 terror plot.
San Francisco was the the only big city police department to drop out of the JTTF last February amid concerns the Trump administration would increase surveillance of Muslim communities like the New York City police did after Sept. 11, 2001.
In radio ads, the San Francisco Police Officers Association called on City Hall to drop the politics and get back on the federal anti-terror team.
“Somehow they feel that cooperating with a federal agency is somehow endorsing the Trump administration, which is ludicrous,” said SFPOA President Martin Halloran. “You ask any FBI agent, they would say that this is extremely dangerous – not working with them, not sharing information.”
San Francisco Supervisor Hillary Ronen was one of those who called on the department to stop cooperating with the feds.
“The general concerns were about the Muslim community, and the targeting of that community, and especially by this administration in Washington,” said Rosen.
Former FBI special agent and KPIX 5 security analyst Jeff Harp said that’s not what the terror cops are all about.
“Who is targeted? People who are suspected of being involved in international terrorism. It doesn’t have a check box,” said Harp.
In the middle of all this is SFPD Chief Bill Scott, who finds himself caught between a political rock and a public safety hard place.
“In order to re-enter into a [memorandum of understanding] it has to go through the Board of Supervisors and still has to go through the Police Commission,” said Scott.
Last month, San Francisco acting Mayor London Breed was asked whether the city would reconsider participation in the JTTF in light of the alleged Pier 39 plot.
“The chief and I are having discussions about that and we’re gonna be having a few important announcements in the coming weeks,” said Breed at the time.
According to an FBI complaint, on December 16, Everitt Jameson told a undercover agent he wanted to attack Pier 39 in the name of ISIS on Christmas Day. Two days later, he sent the agent pictures of the pier.
FBI sources tell KPIX 5 they did notify SFPD about the threat, but police had to wait for that call because San Francisco is no longer part of the task force.
Indeed, for the past year the commission has been looking into getting back on the task force, but so far, no results.
“What was said then and still to this day is something we had to look at in terms of our policies, particularly our First Amendment policies,” said Scott.
“SFPD pulled out of the Joint Terrorism Task Force for reasons that were more political than anything else,” said Halloran. “It certainly wasn’t related to public safety.”
Ronen says “civil liberties, religious liberties and the freedom of people of all religions in San Francisco is sacrosanct.”
How this is going to work out remains to be seen. So why is the police union running the ads now? Well, there’s a mayoral race underway, and it is likely the police union is trying to make this an issue in the mayoral race.