Tuesday, January 19, 2021
News + Politics Cops get raises; city gets nothing

Cops get raises; city gets nothing

Two letters that purport to show the POA agreeing to reforms amount to 'a complete nothing,' critics say.


The San Francisco Board of Supes gave final approval to a deal with the Police Officers Association after city officials and the POA signed a couple of letters that amount, critics say, to very little at all.

Police officers wear POA masks (in violation of policy) at a demonstration

In fact, the two letters, which were given to the supervisors just two hours before the final vote, include no legally binding guarantees that the cops will do anything they haven’t already done.

“It’s a complete nothing,” longtime police-reform advocate John Crew told me. “It’s not even an agreement.”

The letters, copies of which were provided to me after a San Francisco Sunshine Ordinance request, simply confirm what is already in state law and say that the POA will work “collaboratively” on reforms.

Here’s the entire text of the first letter, from Amalia Martinez, acting director of employee relations for the city:

I write to confirm the parties’ understanding and interpretation of Section 4, Negotiations Responsibility, of the 2018-2021 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the City and County of San Francisco (City) and the San Francisco Police Officers Association (SFPOA). That provision requires the City to provide reasonable written notice to the SFPOA on any proposed change within the scope of representation as specified in Government Code section 3504.5, and to meet and confer with the SFPOA about the proposed change if the SFPOA timely requests to do so. The City interprets its meet and confer obligations under this MOU provision to be equivalent to the City’s meet and confer obligations under state law and City Charter section A8.590-4. The City agrees that under state law and Charter section A8.590-4, when the City proposes a change that involves a management rights’ decision that affects POA members, the City must provide notice to the POA and upon request meet and confer on identified effects within the scope of representation. This MOU provision does not expand the City’s bargaining requirements, or require the City to meet and confer on permissive subjects. Please sign below to confirm the POA’s agreement with this interpretation.

That’s it. The POA agrees to accept state law. Nothing more.

Nowhere does the letter say that the POA will stop using “meet and confer” as a way to delay reforms (as it has done repeatedly in recent years). Nowhere does it say that the city can, for example, ban the sort of chokeholds that killed George Floyd or decline to arm cops with Tasers without going through a lengthy meet-and-confer process.

Then there’s the letter the POA sent to the city Here it is:

Again: No promises not to demand meet-and-confer on those changes. No promises to go along with the city’s new policies. Just an agreement to “work collaboratively” on the “interests, goals, and objectives” of the reforms.

And by the way: If the cops agree to shift some calls away from armed law-enforcement response, that’s fine – but it’s going to take money to fund the other responders. That money, by any logic, ought to come out of the Police Department (that is, we won’t need as many cops). Otherwise, we are just paying the cops more to do less work.

Sup. Aaron Peskin told me that the letters, while not exactly “good,” were a step in the right direction and a sign that the POA realizes it can no longer be an obstacle to needed changes in the department. At least, he said, the POA agreed to follow state law on meet and confer – which has not always been the case in the past.

Sup. Dean Preston, who voted against the agreement, said that “in a sense, it’s pretty meaningless, and that’s all we got.  We did not achieve meaningful reforms, that’s pretty clear.”

Peskin told me he’s convinced that the POA is changing (not necessarily because the cops want to but because they know they have to). I hope he’s right. I hope this starts a new era of collaborative – and meaningful – police reforms.

But I’m less optimistic than Peskin is.

Crew put it this way: Imagine if the city told the POA that SF would “work collaboratively” and in good faith, following all applicable law, to try to get the cops a raise, at some point in the future, and don’t worry about the specifics, just trust the Mayor’s Office and the supes to do the right thing down the road.

“No way the POA is signing a contract like that,” he said.

But the city just did.

Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.


  1. GreekFurl: bad cops are not nothing and we are being forced to pay for crap cops because the supervisors folded like chairs. Why are you defending the supes’ vote to re-up the POA on the POA’s terms? Didn’t Peskin say something about “over his dead body?” I take it that Aaron is still alive, that wily fucker.

    When you say “long game,” you mean excuse every conservative vote by liberal/progressives, claim they are playing eleventy level chess and then finally mumble something about politics being cyclical.

    This is all cover for getting paid to lose. London Breed likes that. You claim I am a shill for Breed. Yet you are okay with Breed winning over and again. Perhaps you need to take some time to collect your thoughts?

  2. Gorn, just keep spewing your taunts. Breed keeps screwing up. French Laundry? That was bone headed. More and more, people are looking at the recall option. Politics is a long game, not a sprint. Breed is losing support. She may yet be named in the corruption probe. You think you can goad people into reacting hastily. Keep in mind, Gascon is not around to cover up her crimes like he did Lee’s. Now, be honest, was that you sock puppeting as Juan/Brian/Bill on Mission Local? At least until you got a well deserved boot. I have to say, you are quite a hoot. In spite of your best efforts, it isn’t the progressives that are demoralized. We’re winning the long game.

  3. geekfreek, Why are you defending the indefensible of progressives getting rolled by Breed twice and folding for the POA during an historic era of mobilization against policing as we know it?

    Lemme guess, the progs are playing eleventy level chess and are biding their time for the right moment to make their move. Politics is cyclical!

    What’s demoralized wave after wave of San Franciscans who have donated time and money to progressive/liberal campaigns is this bullshit, where they do what the moderate/conservatives demand under threat of their nonprofits being defunded. If San Franciscans had to make a choice, I’d wager they’d prefer to defund the SFPD and replace it with social workers even if the cost of that was defunding nonprofits that don’t do as much good as SFPD violence does harm.

    In the world of Democrat patronage money laundering, it is all about using public resources to control political operators to serve private purposes.

  4. Gorn, simply put, shut up. Why aren’t you defending Breed’s idiotic trip to French Laundry? That moved her closer to being recalled. Oh wait! You think this load of crap will so demoralize people that they will forgive Breed’s arrogance.

  5. They folded like chairs, went down like $3 whores, were potted like plants, got rolled like a cheap joint of brown Mexican shake, mostly stems and seeds.

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