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Reforming the SFPD
City needs Public Safety Officers


By h. brown


February 15, 2007

There absolutely cannot be police reform in San Francisco as long as Gavin Newsom is mayor. Further, reform cannot come with Louise Renne as the head of the Police Commission. The Office of Citizens Complaints cannot do it's work with light-duty police officers working in their offices. Both the Commission and the OCC (as well as the Ethics Commission) need dramatic staff increases. The Police Chief should be fired immediately.

Mayor Gavin Newsom

Police Commission President Louise Renne

San Francisco Police Chief Heather Fong

Retirements from the force should be accelerated, not delayed. There should be a hiring freeze until screening methods and managers are replaced. Tim Hettrick and Marty Halloran's anti-pot unit should be disbanded.

Kamala Harris has got to go. The entire SFPD should be tested for steroids and a continual random testing for Jason's Juice (tip of the hat to Jason Giambi), HGH and other drugs that foster aggression should be made permanent.

District Attorney Kamala Harris

The next 400 hires from the SFPD budget should be for neighborhood Patrol Specials, a force older than the SFPD and one devoted to walking neighborhood beats.

I'd be happy just to see steroid testing. I have no doubt that it is the use of this drug by pumped-up officers that causes the vast majority of civilian injuries at the hands of the field officers. Every cop who puts someone in the hospital emergency room should be tested for steroids on the spot. Complaints of police brutality would instantly fall by 50%.

Cops should be required to do the same one man/woman patrols that past cops walked. This is not Baghdad. Any officer afraid to walk the streets of San Francisco alone (unless you count a 13 shot pistol, a hundred rounds of ammunition, clubs, pepper spray, armor, communications) should resign.

The department needs helicopters back in the air and kiosks (cobans) on the ground at the most dangerous intersections. Cops gotta ride buses in uniform.

The SFPD has more bodies, making more money, better equipped and trained at anytime in their history and they're doing a worse job than at any point in the last 50 years.

This is all Gavin Newsom's fault. How the hell can Heather Fong still be chief when the City just paid 83k bucks to a gay guy because 2 of it's officers used his head as a mop for his urine while screaming homophobic obscenities at him?

Kamala Harris is equally guilty. How can a drunken drug addict toss his long-time (and sober) partner out a window to her death and not be prosecuted? How can a lout rushing to a soccer game run a vehicle with 3 Chinese-American fathers off the road and kill them and not face a single charge? How can red-necked homophobic marines beat the hell out of a gay glee club and not be charged?

The cops are thuggish, cynical liars. The Mayor and D.A. trade public safety for political expediency. To reform the first, you have to replace the latter. Absolutely anyone would be better than Newsom and Harris. Let's start there.

In an ideal world

Forward thinking people have been combining the functions of Public Safety personnel for decades. In Desperes, Missouri, cross-trained personnel alternate between police, fire and ambulance duty. It relieves boredom and gives the public a better force. Every recruit has to at least have begun college and be willing to make a pledge to finish. They've been doing this for 35 years.

It is a particularly meaningful experience for those who have been exclusively cops. I've fought fires with them and they are amazed to be cheered when they roar up to an emergency with sirens blazing. Those who have just fought fires welcome getting off their asses in the TV room and getting to pack heat. Old time ambulance personnel love to see FD couch potatoes do 12 hour shifts clearing airways on junkies and drunks. I've a suggestion to make us even safer.

Create: The SF International Mutual Aid Force

Become an SF Public Safety Officer and spend a year serving on the Tokyo Fire Department. Or, in Zurich. Wanna see Istanbul? All doable. Of course, their officers train and serve here.

They learn our streets. They learn where our cisterns are located and where the Fire Chief hid the fire plug adapters. They get to familiarize themselves with the workings of an SF City ambulance and pick up the language at the same time.

Every recruit should be guaranteed a year overseas for every 10 years of service. Ten percent of the SF forces should be attached to foreign departments at all times.

The main advantage? When the big one hits, be it in Tokyo, Istanbul, Paris, London or at Van Ness and Market, locals will know that trained help is on the way (or, we could rely on FEMA). Cities participating in the program can rest assured that the help set down by air, sea or land will know the terrain, the equipment and the people.

Presently? It starts with replacing the Mayor and the D.A.. No meaningful reform of SF Public Safety can occur while Newsom and Harris are in office. For whatever reason, the Mayor is an apologist and an enabler for the Police Officers Association. And, the D.A. is more concerned with her conviction percentage than your health and well-being, let alone justice.

Oddly, the first meeting of the new Board of Supes' Public Safety Committee began 19 minutes ago. It's a start.

Salon tomorrow.

h. brown is a 62 year-old keeper of sfbulldog.com, an eclectic site featuring a half dozen City Hall denizens. h is a former sailor, firefighter, teacher, nightclub owner, and a hard-living satirical muckraker. Email h at h@ludd.net.


Editor's Note: Views expressed by columnists published on FogCityJournal.com are not necessarily the views or beliefs of Fog City Journal. Fog City Journal supports free speech in all its varied forms and provides a forum for a complete spectrum of viewpoints.



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