Create more police accountability

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EDITORIAL

"Our department is shaken," Police Chief Greg Suhr said last week when federal indictments of six cops who had been menacing and taking advantage of poor people were unsealed (see "Crooked cops," page 13). But it was stirring for those of us who believe in social justice and government transparency to finally see action taken, three years after seeing damning video footage of cops stealing the few belongings that some people have.

Too often, widely witnessed cases of police misconduct simply slip into a black hole, shielded from public accountability by the overly broad Peace Officers Bill of Rights, which protects even the most egregious serial offenders from responsibility for their actions.

Suhr said other cops will face disciplinary action for connections to or awareness of the indicted crimes, and the ongoing investigation will go wherever it leads — but not into the command staff, as Suhr definitively said in response to a direct question from the Guardian. That's not good enough.

District Attorney George Gascón — who was police chief during many of the crimes — and his commanders need to be asked the classic cover-up question: What did you know and when did you know it? Because Gascón's answer to us that he learned of problems in the SROs only when Public Defender Jeff Adachi released the videos just doesn't ring true.

Police mistreatment of single-occupancy hotels and other poor people has been well-known. It's been going on for years, and it continues to this day — as our reporters found from simply asking around at the Henry Hotel. We're happy with Suhr's reforms of SRO procedures and his decision to place cameras on more cops, but that doesn't solve the police accountability problem.

City leaders have chosen to funnel tech firms into the poorest parts of town, with the unseemly encouragement of attorney and political climber Randy Shaw, whose Tenderloin Housing Clinic runs many SROs under city contracts. And it's been done with increased police pressure on the poor, including a new police substation built to appease and entice Twitter.

Those of us who criticized the decision to make the top cop into the top prosecutor were right that it would compromise police accountability efforts, which are almost non-existent in today's District Attorney's Office, even as the city aggressively works to "clean up" the Tenderloin and parts of town with high concentrations of poor people, such as 16th and Mission.

Adachi has been the hero behind these indictments, and he needs to be rewarded by the Mayor's Office with more funding for the police accountability unit he seeks. We can't wait three years for the feds to bring our crooked cops to justice in every case. If the DA's Office can't or won't hold officers accountable, then the city should help the Public Defenders Office play that role. The overworked Office of Citizen Complaints should also get more funding from the city's current budget surplus.

This city has broken trust with the people who need its help the most, and it's time to repair that damage.

Comments

the criminals, thugs and gangs that you rarely cover, rather than the odd cop who gets a little over-enthusiastic.

Cops are under enormous stress and anyone except the most virulent anti-cop bigot is sympathetic and supportive.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 04, 2014 @ 3:43 pm

And those cops are well-paid for those stressful jobs, as they should be. But with their power over people's freedom and lives comes great responsibility, so cops should be held to the highest of standards.

Posted by steven on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 12:54 pm

knowing that even the bad cops do good for us all 99% of the time.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 1:06 pm

Usually I'm not on the side of the libs here, but I hope these cops get the absolute max. If we're going to have any trust in LE, they can't be doing stuff like this. When the people entrusted with enforcing the law violate those same laws, it undermines the laws and the authority of the whole system. It undermines the authority of the police. If stuff like this doesn't get punished severely, then at some point people start looking at LE like they do at the cops in some banana republic where everyone knows the cops are on the take. We need to do what we can to restore the community's confidence in the police, and if it takes strengthening the institutions that monitor them, then so be it.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 1:39 pm

do not feel LE is a threat to them, even if they do some bad things with perps and suspects.

There is a feeling that those who end up on the wrong side of police harassment aren't angels themselves.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 1:51 pm

then that plurality will be jeapordized. The justice system only enjoys popular support so long as people perceive it to be just.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 2:13 pm

only victims of police misbehavior are bad guys.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 2:17 pm

"Some" are trolls. "Some" would argue just for the sake of arguing. But if cops keep committing crimes and getting away with them without accountability, then you start to lose most of the people.

...apparently even some otherwise conservative law-and-order types.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 12:09 am

police over-exuberance is a no-good thug like Oscar Grant.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 6:51 am

If by "people" you mean people like yourself? Vermin like you are not "people." You are a troll.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 8:22 am

obviously a troll. And anyone who disagrees with him must be "vermin".

When you are losing a debate, call the other party names.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 8:34 am

When it becomes clear that this is too much for even some law-and-order types, you change the subject and call another, entirely different, innocent victim of police murder a "no-good thug."

And *I'm* the one losing the debate?

Posted by Greg on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 8:49 am

If the cops were there at all, something bad had clearly gone down.

Was every SRO resident guilty of crimes? Maybe not. Are SRO's hotbeds of drugs, prostitution and theft? Absolutely.

Did a couple of cops go too far? Maybe? Would many people and jurors understand that in the context of the stress and danger that cops work under? Absolutely.

But of course you only care about cops in Ukraine.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 8:59 am

Only you would defend blue pigs who steal from people

Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 9:20 am

struggle to find much fault in those cases where the alleged victims were bad guys.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 9:32 am
Posted by Guest on Mar. 04, 2014 @ 3:43 pm

there was never any doubt that he would fall into the abyss.

Again.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 9:02 am

But being an object of amusement and an example of how not to be both serve as sufficient justification for having him around, along with his hopeless but harmless prognostications.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 9:12 am

And then we can see if any of us have ever heard about it.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 9:31 am
Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 5:47 pm
Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 6:08 pm
Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 6:24 pm
Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 6:35 pm

Question the security that is provided and then ridicule the methods in which it is provided....Stand a post for one day and you would realized what is "kept" from most of the population of SF. I would rather you just say thank you for keeping that Junkie out of your living room.....and in the Tenderloin where he belongs...it is containment...containment of the few so that the many can have a quality of live that is acceptable.

Posted by STP on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 12:08 pm

So cops all the cops that have been arrested, indicted, investigated, fired from their jobs over the years have been "shielded" by some sort of Bill of Rights??? Don't think so

Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 6:35 am

We all have to lay down sometime...no matter the irrational decision..

Posted by Guest on Mar. 11, 2014 @ 6:29 pm

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