No justice, no deal: Time for a better contract with the police union

SF cops are among the highest-paid in the country -- but we aren't getting our money's worth, and the POA is a major obstacle to reform.

Two years after the city formally committed itself to police reform, we have almost bupkis to show for it. The reason? The San Francisco Police Officers’ Association, the single, greatest obstacle to police reform in the city.

Right now, San Francisco is negotiating a new contract with the POA. Such negotiations usually happen behind closed doors, with the community left out in the cold. But not this time. A campaign led by attorneys, physicians, educators, clergy, youth, nonprofits, and activists is firing out a clear message: No justice, no deal! The new contract must respect our values and foster necessary police reform.

A rally for Alex Nieto, killed by SFPD.

Why? Because the recent level of corruption within SFPD has simply caused too much pain and anger. Too many lives have been cut short, too many families destroyed, too many moms and dads left in tears. The stories are wrenching:

  • Alex Nieto: gunned down in a hail of 59 police bullets
  • Amilcar Perez Lopez: shot in the back six times by police
  • Mario Woods: executed as if by a police firing squad
  • Luis Gongora Pat, a homeless man, one of the city’s most vulnerable, killed within 30 seconds after the squad car pulled up
  • Jessica Williams, a young pregnant mother: shot while trying to dislodge her crashed vehicle from beneath a truck.

In not one of these instances has a rogue officer even been brought to trial. 

Then there are the exchanges of racist and homophobic text messages among officers, and documented incidents of officers stealing from low-income people and dealing drugs–abuses both stupefying and intolerable.

Sadly, with this bomb cyclone of scandals whirling about, the POA leadership, instead of pressing for reform, has adamantly opposed many of our values in this City of St. Francis. Rather than focus on the needs of its members for decent wages, benefits, and working conditions—the prime focus of any responsible union—POA leadership has been propagating a law-and-order agenda a la Donald Trump. Examples:

  • Instead of using established procedures for resolving disputes as intended, the POA has used them to block, delay or weaken reforms outlined by both the Department of Justice and the Blue Ribbon Panel–most recently, the city’s new use-of-force policies that prioritize the sanctity of life.
  • The POA is currently promoting a deeply flawed ballot initiative to override the chief, the Police Commission, and elected officials in overseeing the use of Tasers, weapons that are potentially lethal.
  • At a time when immigrant families are under attack, POA leadership continues to undermine our City’s sanctuary ordinance.
  • When Colin Kaepernick courageously protested police brutality by taking a knee, POA leadership arrogantly called him “foolish” and “naive” and called on the 49ers to “denounce” his gesture.

SFPD is one of the highest paid police forces in the country and, curiously, 30% of the POA president’s lucrative salary is paid by the city. Given the recent slew of scandals, isn’t it time to ask if we’re getting our money’s worth?

City officials simply cannot check their values at the door when entering these negotiations. They cannot overlook the abuses within SFPD and the leadership of the union claiming to represent it. The new POA contract must respect our values and foster rather than impede reform. The clear message from a broad and diverse segment of the community could not be more timely: No justice, no deal!

To learn more about the #NoJusticeNoDeal Campaign, check out:

  • curiousKulak

    The POA wants to thank Sup Peskin and Ronin for installing Mark Farrell as mayor. A friend in need is a friend indeed.

    • Do Something Nice

      Yes, because under more liberal mayors, the POA never got anything they wanted. Or something.

  • SF Sunset Guy

    Our mayor is the highest paid in the country as well Tim – we’re not getting our money’s worth of leadership, governance from him, his predecessors, and won’t from any of his successors, to say nothing of the $10 billion budget.

    With that said, the same DA that won’t charge officers gives reasons for not doing so; and you’re really going to need to define the term “justice” in each of these cases. It cannot be a sloganeering catch-all without a precise definition.

    Moreover, this is a “pro-union” town, where unions – most of them public sector unions at that, hold a lot of sway and express influence while insulating themselves from scrutiny and accountability – two more San Francisco values.

  • Mike K

    She was driving a stolen car running from the cops. You make it sound like she had an accident and was shot. ??

    • Richard Leslie Smith

      Thanks for your comment. I’m aware of her larger story. It did not warrant the officer killing her. The consensus is clear among a wide range of law enforcement professionals: shooting at a moving vehicle is almost never a good idea. Hence the Police Commission’s adoption of a new use-of-force policy after her death.
      https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/5/8/15533536/police-shooting-moving-cars-jordan-edwards

      • Mike K

        I fully agree that the cop was way too quick to use his gun but I just didnt agree with the sentence that left out alot of info. Thanks

    • Mike,

      I haven’t dug into this but is this guy really a priest?

      I mean, spreading hate and lies is pretty bad even for a Jesuit.

      Go Giants!

      h.

  • Father Smith,

    Did you graduate from the University of BS with honors?

    Hey, I’m way way to the left but I’d have borrowed bullets to keep shooting most of the people you’re canonizing.

    Perez was an out and out cop murder.

    They killed him because they were too lazy to stop and question him and undercover narcs will do that.

    With impunity.

    The two cops who wasted Perez should be showering with a thousand MS-13’s at San Quentin right now.

    My main problems with these shootings is that the public is paying for way too many bullets.

    If anyone could shoot straight, one to knee would have taken down Woods.

    Jesus, if the Irish Republican Army can do it, so can we?

    I mean, these cops are mostly IRA rejects, right?

    Chief Keith …

    Don’t you have a shooting range?

    Go Giants!

    h.

    • Do Something Nice

      Sorry, but anyone who condones the police response – I mean the police murder of Mario Woods is a sub-human piece of shit.

      • DoS,

        “Sub-human”?

        I’m mostly Irish if that’s what you’re getting at.

        Alioto for Mayor Again!

        Go Giants!

        h.