Some things just never change. We’re talking about the unique social experiment known in San Francisco as the Office of Citizen Complaints (OCC) which has just changed its name to the Department of Police Accountability (DPA).
The DPA is supposed to deliver a vehicle where citizens can file their grievances about the conduct of San Francisco Police personnel as well as the policies of the Department they believe should be adopted, modified, or outright rejected.
Unfortunately, the process just doesn’t work the way it should.
The failure of the system is not always the fault of the DPA investigators since, for the most part, they have no police background and, based on their own responses to a recent audit, had no confidence in the DPA hierarchy.
The SFPOA has also had disputes through the years with the DPA mostly based on their failure to properly interpret the concept of “fair” and “objective” investigations.
But the fault actually lies at the hands of those in charge. Take, for example, the latest (now retired) Director who had a thing about numbers. There are over 100 pages of numbers in her last Annual Report which was filed 2 years ago . . . It basically tells you that they (ie DPA) spent over $5,000,000.00 on investigating only 673 cases!!
That was the lowest number of complaints filed in 23 years!!
A great majority of those complaints received were categorized as Unwarranted Action or Conduct Reflecting Discredit. Those specific charges imply pretty serious allegations of misconduct but, in reality, that’s usually not the case.
Here’s a typical example of an Unwarranted Action complaint:
The suspect was seen on video robbing a liquor store with a gun, positively identified by an eyewitness and arrested 2 blocks away by a uniformed officer. The suspect then filed a complaint of Unwarranted Action against the arresting officer. When the officer’s representative asked the DPA Investigator what was “unwarranted” about the arrest - the Investigator stated, “I can’t tell you.”
It’s not so much he number of complaints filed that drive DPA it’s the manner in which they are handled. The majority of them could be dealt with through dispute mediation or expedited review at the district station level but that’s not going to happen because DPA depends on the lengthy and, for the most part, unnecessary investigative “process” which takes months to complete and involves a number of their investigators because that’s exactly how they inflate their budget. And that was never the intent of the original legislation. It was not a “full-employment” act for civil servants, nor should it be.
There will be a new DPA Director selected shortly. Let’s just hope that we can finally get someone who recognizes the fact that civilian oversight is a necessary process it’s just not one to be abused.
Imagine planning a trip to San Francisco, the city you always wanted to visit, with your husband to celebrate your 9-year old daughter’s birthday and, at the same time, fulfilling a dream of walking across the Golden Gate Bridge.
This was especially important to Lindsay Denneau since she also wanted to steal a peek at the actual house located in Pacific Heights that was portrayed as a back-drop in the Full House sitcom she watched as a little girl growing up in Hammond, Louisiana.
The family arrived in San Jose, rented a car and drove to San Francisco. They made a quick stop for some last-minute shopping and when they returned to where they had been parked they found the car had been broken into with the thieves taking their luggage and, unfortunately, all of her daughter’s birthday presents.
Officer Christopher Prescott was just about ready to sign off when he noticed the Denneau family in distress. If Officer Prescott was narrating this part of the story he’d probably just say that he stopped and did what he could, initiated a police report and dusted for prints. So let’s go with Mrs. Denneau’s version: “He (Officer Prescott) took a report and tried to calm my nerves . . . Most importantly, not only did he hug my daughter and calm her down, he purchased (several toys for her) . . . It made me cry. He said he couldn’t let her not have anything for her birthday.”
The store employees at the nearby Walgreen’s also couldn’t help but notice the officer in uniform and what he was doing so they also contributed what they could to the family to help them through this ordeal.
Mrs. Denneau continued, “It made me realize through all the sadness and distress, there is still good in this world. Officer Prescott was very caring and very kind to my family. I thanked him very much and my daughter is especially appreciative. . . . I will never forget him . . . “
Unfortunately, this incident was nothing new to those officers in Patrol. It’s all too common for visitors to The City to fall prey to the In and Out (aka: Cite and release) car burglary crew members who are “on patrol” day and night until something changes.
And, as for Officer Prescott, let’s just hope the DPA doesn’t try to charge him with Unwarranted Action for purchasing toys while on-duty . . .
It’s 7:30 in the morning and the woman who had been threatened all night by her child’s father finally has a chance to call 9-1-1. Officer Ramon Reynoso and Officer Ricardo Santiago respond and learn that while the male suspect had been strangling his victim, his 2-year old daughter was pulling on his leg so he shoved her causing her to fall and break into tears. The suspect had already fled the area. The officers immediately obtained an Emergency Protective Order for the victim and made a report.
Approximately 12 hours later Officer Jason Nord and Officer Michael Hill responded back to the same address where the woman victim told them that the suspect had been calling her all day threatening to kill her. Based on this new information the officers managed to track down the suspect’s location in Livermore and obtained an arrest warrant. These investigative steps took hours to complete. Nevertheless, once in place Officer Reynoso, Officer Santiago, Sergeant Daniel Silver, and Sergeant Joseph Kavanagh responded to Livermore Police Department. They hooked up with Sergeant Sanchez and his tactical team. (Turns out the suspect was a 3-strike candidate and had a history of committing crimes whiled armed with a gun.) Thanks to the team effort of all involved the suspect was taken into custody and now has a new mailing address, hopefully for some time.
There’s nothing new to the officers at Bayview when it comes to working together as a team. That’s why when they discovered a victim who had been stalked, kidnapped, drugged and beaten by an ex-boyfriend who was still continuing to threaten to kill her, they went to work.
The team consisted of Officer Juan Lara, Officer Rooney Freeman, Officer Lozaro Villalozano, Officer Amanda Tweedy, Officer Jason Barnecut, Officer Milad Rashidian, and Officer Jsutin Tatlow. It took them 2 days to track the felony suspect down but they managed to do just that and recover the assault rifle he was carrying as well.
Officer Stephen Coleman, Officer Gabriel Alcarez, and Officer Rupert Geraldo were patrolling the 1400 block of Kirkwood, one of the busiest crime arreas of The City sporting some of the most notorious street gang members, when they noticed one of the individuals who was more than responsible for the neighborhood’s unwanted reputation. And he was double-parked.
The officers took it upon themselves to inform the driver of the traffic infraction and noticed items of contraband in plain view. The subject was also on felony probation for prior firearm arrests and many other incidents of assaulting police officers. A probation search revealed that, true to form, the subject in question was carrying a fully-loaded, semi-automatic weapon with an extended magazine.