Police Videogate said to galvanize
movement toward community policing
Communities feeling ridiculed and mocked are the real crime,
Mayor Newsom exclaimed today.
Reverend Cecil Williams
Police Commission President Louise Renne
explains investigation process.
Newsom press secretary, Peter Ragone, fields a bombardment of
questions from reporters during Interfaith Council conference.
December 9, 2005, 5:30 p.m.
By Pat Murphy
and Luke Thomas
Copyright fogcityjournal.com 2005
Communities feeling ridiculed and mocked are the core public
trust violations unfolding in San Francisco Police Department
Videogate, Mayor Gavin Newsom reflected today.
"That's the real crime here
the impact on real people
and our ability to do our job in a way that builds trust with
the community," Newsom told reporters following an afternoon
address to the American Institute of Architects.
Suspension of some 20 police officers Wednesday for alleged participation
in a locker-room style video came at a time of heightened interest
in reshaping the police department toward the concept of community
Newsom and Police Chief Heather Fong termed the video "sexist,
racist, and homophobic" on December 6.
Revelation of the video galvanized leaders of the San Francisco
Interfaith Council, who this morning described resulting anger
as the impetus needed to create community policing a reality.
"Some have said this is nothing more than police officers
making fun of themselves and we should not take them too seriously,"
Interfaith Council president Dr. James DeLange said in an 11:00
a.m. City Hall press conference today.
Dr. James DeLange
SHOULD POLICE CHAPLAINS RIDICULE POLICE?
"We ask police officers and other citizens how they would
feel if police chaplains made a video in which they ridiculed
police officers who came to them for help?
"Or what would we think if nurses in our hospitals did skits
that made fun of patients and then put it on the internet?
"For too long, over too many years, we have witnessed a
subculture in the police department that does not respect those
(community) values - that operates like it is an entity unto itself
with its own values.
"We are outraged, but we are not surprised by what we see
on those videos," DeLange stated.
EXTENDED SUPPORT TO MAYOR AND POLICE CHIEF
"We are here because we want to extend our support to the
mayor and to the chief of police, and we recommend full support
for Mayor Gavin Newsom and Police Chief Heather Fong for the implementation
of the following:
- All of the police officers serving on the police force who
are and will be implicated and identified in this most offensive
act remain on suspension and will be dealt the strongest disciplinary
- The Police Commission begin immediately to search out inter-departmental
activities which may support and condone any such irresponsible
acts of disappreciation of human life and provide for the strictest
- The mayor, the Board of Supervisors, the police chief, and
the San Francisco Police Commission begin immediately to reform
the Police Officer Conduct Policy for all officers in the City
and County of San Francisco to insure that our greater community
is insulated from such acts of inhumane and displaced symbols
of authority, and to provide the strongest and swiftest discipline
for any who violate this standard for police officer conduct."
"We are requesting from the Board of Supervisors not to
to stand behind the mayor on this issue,"
added Souleiman Ghali, president of the San Francisco Islamic
Support this mayor and this police chief, implored Souleiman Ghali,
president of the San Francisco Islamic Society.
DIVIDE BETWEEN POLICE AND COMMUNITY GREAT
"I'm almost more concerned about the reaction of some of
the people who participated than the video itself," Newsom
"It suggests that some just don't get it. They don't understand
why the community is upset, they don't under stand why I am upset,
they don't understand why the chief of police is upset.
that we as a society and a community
have a lot more work to do."
Elvira Pollard, mother of Gustavus Rugley, attended the Interfaith
Council conference. Slain by SFPD officers in the summer of 2004,
Rugley's body was riddled with 35 bullet wounds.