Mayor's Director of Criminal Justice targets
law enforcement systemic organizational problems
Calls on factions to cooperate in search of proactive
to stem violent crime
Director of Criminal Justice, Allen Nance,
at yesterday's meeting of the Police Commission
By Aldrich M. Tan
May 11, 2006
Allen Nance, director of the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice,
updated the police commission on the office's progress regarding
a review of the Police Department's organizational structure at
the police commission meeting Wednesday evening
"Our office has a tremendous amount of respect for the officers
of the police department that keep the community safe, solve crimes
and demonstrate the integrity of the city," Nance said.
The police commission applauded Nance's presentation and presence
at the meeting.
"I think you are the first representative from the Mayor's
Office to speak at this specific commission," commission
president Louise Renne said.
Police Commission President Louise Renne (right) and Commissioner
Nance said Mayor Gavin Newsom asked him several weeks ago to
lead the review. The review will address challenges that the Department
faces based on discussions with Police Chief Heather Fong, members
of the Police Department, local community members.
The most obvious issue in the department is upgrading information
technology, Nance said. The Office of Criminal Justice is overseeing
the development of a justice-integrated information project.
"Once it is in place, the system will help the department
manage its information and solve crimes effectively," Nance
Nance said the study also focuses on the development of the police's
recruitment program and an early intervention system, which will
provides feedback for relative officer performances and intervention
before behavior becomes problematic.
"San Francisco needs to work on bringing in good officers
from a variety of different places, not just locally, and identify
new officers that represent the city's diverse communities"
Leadership reviews need to occur at both the management level
and at the district level, Nance said.
"We need to make sure that the department's leaders are
receiving the training that they need to enhance their skills
and abilities," Nance said.
Improving community policing is a key department strategy, Nance
"I've had an opportunity to talk to officers and members
of the community who have confidence in the community policing
strategy," Nance said, "There is still amount of work
to do and there are portions that don't feel the community policing
has reached them."
Community policing efforts were successful during the immigration
rights rally on May 1, reported Police Chief Fong.
Community organizers sat down with city agencies prior to the
event to make sure that the rally would be a peaceful, Fong said.
Police officers also set up a hotline during the event that enabled
callers to communicate with a bilingual officer."
Police Chief Heather Fong
"I think the event was a model for effective community policing,"
Commissioner David Campos asked Nance about the mayor's commitment
to provide the resources that the department needs.
"A lot has been said over what is happening in San Francisco
in terms of homicide and crime," Campos said, "but the
big issue that that we are facing is that we do not have enough
resources to do what we need to do."
Commissioner David Campos
Nance said Newsom supports adding additional resources to the
department, but that decision ultimately depends on discussions
over the police department's budget at the Board of Supervisors.
"The support is there but I am not sure what will happen
throughout the legislative process," Nance said.
Commissioner Theresa Sparks asked Nance if the analysis means
directly looking at the specific foundations of the criminal justice
system, including relationships with the Police Department and
other agencies such as the District Attorney's Office and the
Police Officers Association.
Sparks cited an article in the Boston Herald on May 10 regarding
the resignation of Police Commissioner Kathleen O'Toole which
described the police situation in that area: increased homicide
rates, uncooperative witnesses, unresolved murders, an understaffed
police department, and a revolving door criminal justice system.
"It has a familiar ring to it," Sparks said. "These
are some of the problems facing our department. We need to see
if the structures are broken down to begin with."
Police Commissioner Teresa Sparks (left)
Nance said he was not surprised with the Boston Herald's reports
and that the problems affecting Boston are not unique to San Francisco.
"We all know that public safety is our priority and all
law enforcement agencies share that burden," Nance said.
Department relations will be a key issue at the commission's
joint meeting with members of the Board of Supervisors on June
7, Renne said. Supervisor Sophie Maxwell will be chairing the
Nance said the Office of Criminal Justice is looking at expertise
from across the nation in relation to policing, including the
national Police Executive Research Forum and the Kennedy School
of Government at Harvard University.
"I guarantee you that the experts are going to tell the
department to improve its technology and implement its early intervention
system," Nance said. "We've hit the ground running and
this added expertise will keep us focused."
Dennis McNally, local chapter vice chair of the American Civil
Liberties Union, invited Nance to take advantage of local resources
as well as the national resources such as the Kennedy School.
"There are many local services available and we are here
to offer our assistance," McNally said.
Commissioner Joe Alioto Veronese said he hopes that Nance will
approach his task using all of the resources at his disposal.
"If there is anything that our commission can do to help
you with your task, we'll appreciate any requests," Veronese
Police Commissioner Joe Alioto-Veronese
"We'll certainly take you up on that offer," Nance