Wednesday, April 14, 2021
News + Politics New leadership at Police Commission

New leadership at Police Commission

After vice president who refused to put key reform items on the agenda abruptly quits, there's an opportunity for change.

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The Police Commission – short two members, including both the president and vice-president – will meet Wednesday/6 and elect new officers who will set the agenda for local police reform.

Key issues around police reform never made the agenda this year — but that could change.

It’s an odd situation: Vice President Damali Taylor, an appointee of Mayor London Breed, abruptly resigned last week after hearing criticism from other members, including Malia Cohen, about her decision to cancel a meeting in December when there were enough members available for a quorum.

Since the position of president has been vacant, Taylor was in charge of running the meetings and controlled the meeting agendas.

That followed a series of questions about why Taylor was refusing to put on the agenda items that other commissioners wanted to discuss – including policies for “meet-and-confer” sessions with the Police Officers Association.

“Malia asked why we couldn’t get this stuff on the agenda,” Commissioner Petra De Jesus told me.

In a Dec. 11 letter to the Board of Supes, Public Defender Manu Raju complained that Tayor was causing “significant and unnecessary delays in hearing important matters related to bias within the SFPD and urgently needed reforms.”

Raju noted: “Commissioners calls for items to be placed on future agendas this year have been ignored, without public explanation.”

Among the issues that Raju cited: Allegations by Dante King, a former implicit-bias trainer for the city, that SFPD was riddled with “extreme” anti-Black bias. The Examiner reported that story in February; Commissioner Cindy Elias asked May 20 for the commission to discuss the issue. Taylor never put the item on the agenda. Elias asked again on June 3, and on June 17, Commissioner John Hamasaki requested that King appear before the commission to outline his concerns.

Nothing happened until November, when Elias asked again to have King report to the commission, and it wasn’t until Elias made a formal motion to add King to the agenda that Taylor was forced to allow his testimony.

“Absent Commissioner Elias’ motion, a public discussion of King’s allegations – which he made public nearly 19 months ago, would have been further delayed … despite four request over seven months,” Raju wrote.

Twice – on July 1 and July 8 – Hamasaki and De Jesus asked that the commission discuss in public the meet-and-confer issue. Taylor has never put it on the agenda.

“She just refused to agendize stuff,” De Jesus told me.

So now we will see a strange situation: The commission will meet with no president or vice president, and the City Attorney’s Office is trying to figure out who will call the meeting to order and lead the discussion to elect new officers.

The goal, De Jesus told me, is that one of the officers will be a mayoral appointee and one will be an appointee of the Board of Supes. That’s how it was supposed to be the past two years, but as Julian Mark at Mission Local (who has been doing a great job on this story) reported, the mayor’s people took complete control of the panel.

The person who gets elected president will have the ability to put reform at the top of the agenda – or not.

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.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Geek sees progressives as potted plants who are paralyzed, unable to organize in the community to raise political power to change things, either at the Commission or at the Board of Supervisors.

    Democrats, progressive/liberal Supervisors, do not want police reform. They want to use persistent problems as red capes to draw activist action while they enable profit making hand over foot. Slow walking minor incremental reform is good political economics.

    Progressive/liberals have had 17 years to figure out a path to leverage Prop H to win police reforms but have not. David Campos warmed one of the first seats on the expanded Commission, disturbing nothing in order to prove his harmless bona fides to selfishly ease his ascent to elected office.

    Bicycle and Ped advocates have had 17 years to figure out how to leverage Prop H to win police reforms on vehicle code enforcement but have not.

    Either these operators are incompetent at doing the political strategy portion of their advocacy jobs, or they are quite competent and chose to accept imposed restraints in order to retain access to policy makers. Either way, the SFPD and POA run free and San Franciscans pay the price.

    De Jesus needs to move on and support the appointment of a young person of color defund police activist.

  2. Again Gorn starts spinning like a top, shilling for the mayor. Breed opposes police reform. Gorn ignores facts in an effort to perpetuate lies. Of course dividing appointments has failed as the mayor has dealt fairly. It is not the BoS who is blocking police reform, it is Breed, pandering to her shrinking base. Gorn simply lies. It is the mayor who is blocking police reform. It was Breed who tried, and thankfully failed, to rig the DA’s election to prevent finally having a DA who won’t ignore police committing crimes. Boudin has upset the POA by bringing cops to justice that her choice for DA would have ignored. The mayor’s supporters are cranking out lies about Boudin. Some of them are totally absurd. And easily refuted. But they are still repeated. Ironically, this is a strategy that Hitler made famous as the Big Lie. And I love how Gotn ignores the fact that Occupy San Francisco occurred in 2011 while the BoS had so-called moderates in control, and Ed Lee was mayor.

  3. “The Police Commission – short two members, including both the president and vice-president – will meet Wednesday/6 and elect new officers who will set the agenda for local police reform.”

    Nothing in this piece substantiates the claim that the commission will set the agenda for local police reform.

    Dividing appointments has failed to bring San Franciscans the responsive Police Commission that we need and voted for in 2003. When might we expect for Commissioner de Jesus to get it together to lead change, both on the commission and more importantly in league with residents?

    The Supervisors clearly have no appetite to challenge the SFPOA. That’s why they’ve never appointed an activist commissioner. Campos led Waggoner along that he’d get a slot. But he appointed domestic abuser Julius Turman because Campos worked with him in corporate practice screwing everyday people to pay down that debt. How many seats were allocated as chit trading for non-cop issues?

    Supervisors know that part of their job is administering gentrification and that there will be independent resistance. Supes also know that they will need the SFPD at their disposal the next time the need arises to crush a populist uprising like they did with Occupy San Francisco, of course after Supes posed for photos and the plenary was infiltrated by CCHO’s self serving cooptive agenda. The nonprofits control non-corporate politics in this town and they will CUT anyone who makes a play at their thing.

    If the state of struggle under this leadership is paralyzed trying to get a nationally pressing issue agendized after 17 years, then, seriously, fuck it. Political timescales are one thing, but this is intentional slow walking to suck down energies charging at capes.

Comments are closed.

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