SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Police in San Francisco are aiming to increase the pace on 272 reforms required by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2016, as the department may be only 40 percent done with the tasks requested, SFPD officials said Wednesday.
Though some progress has been made, 163 of the 272 reforms have yet to be submitted. Forty-eight are essentially done and a total of 109 have been submitted for review,
“We have to have a sense of urgency,” Police Chief Bill Scott said, adding that the department is trying to pick up the pace.
Reforms commenced in 2016 following a series of fatal officer-involved shootings that resulted in the resignation of former police Chief Greg Suhr. When Donald Trump was elected president, the U.S. Department of Justice ended its reform work with San Francisco police.
It was restarted in 2018 with the California Department of Justice and a security risk management firm Hillard Heintze, which was a contractor with the U.S. Department of Justice when it conducted its review of the Police Department in 2016.
Despite the slow progress, some positive results have been attributed to the reform process.
Since 2016, overall use of force incidents dropped 56 percent to 1,649 and the number of times an officer pointed a gun at someone dropped by 67 percent to 868.
Those improvements, Scott said, haven’t reduced crime per se, but they likely will build trust and faith in police, who can solve more crimes as people come forward to provide information to officers.
Also, Scott said that even though 163 reforms have yet to be completed, police have already changed policies to reflect the reforms they will seek official approval for.
Scott said that, in some cases, the department has implemented changes that have gone over and above the recommendations. The California Department of Justice Wednesday morning will release its second report on how far San Francisco police have come reforming practices around use of force, bias, transparency and accountability and community policing.
“SFPD is undergoing an enormous transformation and we are grateful for our partnership with California Department of Justice and Hillard Heintze,” Scott said. “The technical assistance provided through this collaboration enables SFPD staff to address the many complex challenges associated with reform. As we enter Phase III of the collaborative process, we are committed to identifying strategies that will help accelerate this work and solidify our extraordinary achievements.”
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