Now that the election is over it is time to roll up our sleeves and get back to the business at hand. 2017 will present some difficult challenges for the POA, and we will not back down when it comes to our rights, our safety, and the safety of the community that we serve.
As in past years, the POA will likely face many obstacles -- both those looming and foreseeable, and those yet unknown. We will deal with them as they develop, with deliberation and strategy. Issues that we do see on the horizon in 2017 are:
Flawed Use of Force Policy.
Former Police Commissioner Suzy Loftus underhandedly pushed through this flawed policy. It does not afford our members the use less-lethal options in order to protect themselves and the public. The POA will seek a remedy in the courts and through an independent third party arbitrator. It makes no sense that SFPD officers do not have commonly used less-lethal options such as Tasers. To add to the problem, Loftus removed another less lethal option (Carotid Restraint) that has proven to save lives and reduce injuries to suspects and officers.
New SFPD Chief William Scott.
It was no secret that the POA endorsed Toney Chaplin for Chief of Police, and we also made it known that the SFPD has several talented experienced officers within our own ranks that can undoubtedly lead this agency. Outside chiefs are always heavily scrutinized, and they often fail to gain the trust of the rank and file. Newly appointed Chief Bill Scott might agree. He went through two outside chiefs during his career with LAPD. I checked with the President of the Los Angeles Police Protective League and other resources down south, and am hopeful that Chief Scott has the best interest of the SFPD and the city in mind. He brings with him a solid reputation of fairness and the support of law enforcement associations. The POA looks forward to meeting with Chief Scott to offer our suggestions and recommendations to move the department in the right direction so that we can better serve our residents.
The POA will be entering into contract negotiations this year that will see us through the end of the current contract on June 30, 2018. A contract extension that was offered by DHR in the latter part of 2016, to all labor unions in the city, was simply unacceptable to the POA based on substantial wage increases offered to our comparable agencies (i.e. Oakland POA and San Jose POA). The full contract negotiations will cover all provisions of the current MOU and it is important that the members weigh in. Therefore, a survey will be sent to all active members in the near future and it is important that you respond.
Police Commission, Board of Supervisors, Mayor.
While it is important to maintain working relationships with elected and appointed government officials, it is equally important for the POA to stand our ground and hold them accountable when they make false, misleading, or inaccurate statements about our members. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, that occurred far too often in 2016. With new members on the Police Commission and the BOS, the POA is cautiously optimistic for 2017. The POA does look forward to working with newly appointed Police Commission President Julius Turman, and newly appointed Supervisor Jeff Sheedy. A veteran of that panel, Commissioner Turman has proven to be fair, forthright, and reasonable. As for the Mayor? It would be beneficial to all if he allowed the rank and file to have a voice in their own department and did not restrict or exclude the designated labor organization (POA) from representing the members.
As police officers, we all must remember that we are accountable to the public for our actions and our words while on duty. That should never change but we also must remember that when we swore the oath to protect and serve our cities we did not surrender our own constitutional rights or our rights under the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act, also known as the POBAR. Due to lack of response from the department and from the Department of Human Resources, the POA has filed more Step IV grievances in the past six months than we have in the past six years. We have done so in response to violations of the MOU, the Charter, and/or POBAR. The CCSF failure to fairly resolve these basic labor issues has needlessly forced us into arbitration.
The POA will tackle all of these challenges in 2017 as we continue to do the extensive outreach and public service for which we are so well known and appreciated. The Community Service Grant Program, that was initiated last year, will continue this year, but is only one of many outreach projects that the POA runs annually.
In closing, I want to thank all those who stepped up to run for positions on the POA Board of Directors. Membership involvement is vital if our organization is going to continue to progress. It speaks volumes about those who wish to serve their fellow officers and sacrifice their time to see that the good of the order prevails. All candidates who ran for seats on the Board should be commended for their effort.
I was especially pleased that the members of my team all won their positions. Tony Montoya, Rick Andreotti, Sean Perdomo, and Val Kirwan are all solid, ethical, well respected, and dedicated cops who bring a vast amount of knowledge and experience to the POA. I have total confidence in their ability to serve our members. When re-electing them, you made the right choice.
There is much to do in 2017, and the POA shall be heard.