Following activists’ calls for an overhaul of a San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) that has been implicated in a racist, sexist and homophobic text message scandal and multiple incidences of use of force, city leadership asked the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) to assess the department. Yesterday (October 12), the agency released its 414-page report. The verdict: The department disproportionately targets people of color.
“This report makes clear the significant challenges that lie ahead for the police department and the city. More than 90 findings outlined in the report reflect key operational deficiencies in the police department,” COPS Office director Ronald Davis said in a press release about the report. “However, the more than 270 recommendations described in the report provide an opportunity for the police department to address these deficiencies and advance the police department to meet the best practices of 21st century policing.”
The investigation centered around five main areas: Use of force, bias, community policing practices, accountability and recruitment, hiring and personnel practices.
Some key findings:
The majority of deadly use of force incidents by the SFPD involved persons of color (finding 1).
The SFPD does not adequately investigate officer use of force (finding 18).
The weight of the evidence indicates that African-American drivers were disproportionately stopped compared to their representation in the driving population (finding 30).
Not only are African-American and Hispanic drivers disproportionately searched following traffic stops but they are also less likely to be found with contraband than White drivers (finding 32).
The SFPD does not collect data around community policing nor measure success within community policing functions and programs (finding 46).
The SFPD is not transparent around officer discipline practices (finding 55).
Gender, racial and ethnic minority recruits were terminated at a higher rate from recruit training as compared to White male recruits (finding 88).
The SFPD does not have representative diversity within all its ranks in the organization, especially in the supervisory and leadership ranks (finding 90).
As part of its Collaborative Reform Initiative for Technical Assistance program, the COPS Office will work with SFPD for the next 18 months to implement the 272 recommendations in the report, and provide progress reports along the way. Baltimore, Milwaukee and St. Louis County are among the cities using this program to revamp their police departments.