As 2018 draws to a close, I have to admit that this year has been one of the most rewarding, stressful, busy, and chaotic years of my entire career. I was already serving as your Vice President and Chairman of the Negotiating Committee at the beginning of the year while I was working my fulltime assignment at Mission Station. I was able to handle all of this through the mediation and arbitration process due to an excellent negotiation committee and a fantastic Executive Board. The next thing I knew, I was sitting in the Big Chair as the new POA President representing almost 2200 active members and over 1600 retirees. Like all past presidents of our association, I didn’t shy away from the challenge.
Our noble profession continues to be under attack by some in government and the media who truly do not understand what we do, why we do it, or how we do it. Most truly don’t want to know. It is always easier to throw stones rather than embrace the truth.
We have had some disappointments this past year, and some of our members have suffered very serious injuries in the performance of their duties. Others have been treated unfairly by those in authority, and a few have been unjustifiably released from the department out of political convenience or expedience. When politics enters our profession, it is not only the members who suffer, but also the people who we are sworn to protect.
This year also brought some noteworthy accomplishments, achievements, and victories for our members and the Association. The POA is proud of that, and as your new President I will do everything within my power to set and achieve new goals for 2019.
Recap of 2018:
The entire city was still reeling in January after the sudden death of Mayor Ed Lee in December 2017. The POA was in the middle of contract negotiations, and we were not certain as to the fate of our contract. The POA had a great relationship with Mayor Lee, but we were now forced to deal with an administration of “Acting Mayors”, “Appointed Mayors”, and/or “Interim Mayors” who ultimately proved to be “Absent Disengaged Mayors” during our negotiations with the City.
This held true as negotiations progressed. The Department of Human Resources under Director Micki Callahan not only stalled negotiations with zero counter proposals for months, they actually proposed takeaways from our members in an era when every police agency in the country, including our own, is struggling to hire. The POA would not agree to such ludicrous proposals, and we held our ground knowing that, if necessary, we had binding arbitration on our side.
In February of 2018, the POA received notification from the San Francisco Department of Elections that we had submitted more than the required amount of signatures necessary to place Tasers for the SFPD on the June ballot. The POA started this campaign in October of 2017 and through our efforts we finally got the San Francisco Police Commission to adopt a Taser policy in December 2017. This would not have happened if we (POA) did not force the issue. Four Chief’s of Police (Heather Fong, George Gascon, Greg Suhr, and Bill Scott) could not get this passed. It took the POA gathering signatures and seeing that it would be on the ballot for the Police Commission to move on it. Although the ballot measure failed, the POA is now in the Meet and Confer process with DHR over the adopted Police Commission policy.
As we continued to see the stalling tactics from DHR, coupled with their unfair labor negotiations, we realized that arbitration was inevitable. So my team began to prepare for it. Our labor attorney Gregg Adam and I gathered subject matter experts to testify in sworn hearings that were forthcoming. It proved to be a wise move. During mediation and arbitration, the POA made a strong case of needed, earned, and entitled, pay and benefits. Ultimately the Arbitrator agreed with many of our proposals over those of the city.
With the contract in place, we will enjoy the well-deserved raises and increased longevity pay over the life of this contract that will keep us as one of the top paid agencies, of our size, in the State of California.
The focus of the POA soon shifted to the ongoing attacks on our profession. AB931, hastily introduced in Sacramento earlier this year would have changed policing forever. Not only in this state but throughout the country. The “Objectively Reasonable” standard confirmed by the Supreme Court in 1989 would have changed to “Necessary Force” in California. Those in Law Enforcement know how this would have led to non-policing in our profession simply out of self-survival.
The POA joined forces with our law enforcement and civilian partners throughout California to see that this bill never made it to the floor for a vote. It was a victory that we know is fleeting, as similar bills are likely going to be introduced in the next session. We will address them and fight them as they come forward.
As each day passes, I am becoming more and more comfortable in my position as POA President. I have accepted the challenge of my responsibility to the membership, and I intend to carry on the tradition of aggressive representation and commitment to those who serve. I ask for your support and help during my tenure.
At this time of year when we rightfully focus on family and friends, I wish to thank our community for your support of the men and women of the SFPD. We are proud to serve the people of San Francisco and we thank you for your continued support. The POA Executive Board and our Board of Directors extends its utmost wish to all for a Merry Christmas, a Happy Holiday, a Joyous New Year, and peace in 2019.