The State To Monitor Reform Progress Of San Francisco Police Department

San Francisco Police Department

City officials in San Francisco requested a federal investigation into its own police department two years ago following an officer-involved shooting that left many of the city's residents angry and disillusioned with what was seen as a pattern of excessive use of force by the department.

The ensuing investigation by federal authorities resulted in a report that gave direction to countless procedural changes needing to be made. The city agreed to make the necessary changes. Shortly afterward, the Justice Department said that it would discontinue its oversight of the San Francisco police department due to an effort on the part of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to show more support for police officers.

Xavier Becerra, Attorney General for the state of California, says that the state will accept the responsibility for supplying the necessary oversight as the police department in San Francisco reforms itself. This as seen by many as another in a long line of examples of California lawmakers pushing back against the Trump administration.

In a statement to the media, Becerra expressed his disappointment at the what he characterized as the federal government’s abandonment of a local agency of law enforcement that solicited their support.

The explanation from Sessions is that the decision by the Justice Department is part of a larger “course correction” that will maintain focus on providing much-needed resources to law enforcement agencies and not take part in wide-ranging and intrusive probes.

The initial investigation into operations of the San Francisco police department was in response to then-mayor Edwin Lee’s request after the death of 26-year old Mario Woods at the hands of police was caught on camera.

The incident and subsequent review occurred at a time when police departments nationwide were experiencing increased scrutiny from the public and protest in response to the fatal shooting by the police. The problem was exacerbated in the city of San Francisco when it was revealed that officers had exchanged derogatory remarks pertaining to gays and minority through text messages.

During the investigation that resulted from the shooting of Woods, 29-year-old Jessica Williams was shot and killed in another police shooting. The response from the mayor was to terminate the employment of the city’s police chief.

The investigation into the San Francisco police department is unlike investigations that took place in cities like Baltimore in that no court-enforced agreement is possible. This is because the investigation was conducted by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services which seeks to assure police accountability by making assessments of department conduct that are released to the public.