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Gearing Up for Challenges in 2019

January 1, 2019
Tony Montoya - SFPOA President

In my two decades of service with the POA, from a station representative on the Board of Directors, to the elected Secretary followed by your elected Vice President, to my role as your President; I can recall many a crisis and many challenges faced by our organization. These challenges were never ignored or dismissed by past POA administrations and they will not be ignored under my administration.

Our chosen profession has never been a so called “walk in the park” or filled with sunshine, rainbows, and lollipops, but we knew all of that when we entered this noble calling. Police officers in the United States have experienced more scrutiny, oversight, and changes to our profession in the last three years than we have in the last thirty. Some of these changes have been extremely beneficial to the public and to our members. Some have not been very beneficial at all.

Regardless, civilian oversight and constant improvement of tactics based on industry best practices are essential to maintaining the trust of those who we serve. The POA has always believed that.

As we enter into 2019, the POA will likely face a number of issues that we have foreseen and probably even more that we have not foreseen. These challenges will come from within our own department, the Police Commission, the Department of Police Accountability, the Board of Supervisors, the Mayor’s Office, and from elected representatives in Sacramento and in Washington DC. The attacks on law enforcement and the Monday morning quarterbacking of this profession are not limited to San Francisco or our state. They are occurring nationwide, and we must address them on a local, statewide, and national level.

Fortunately, the SFPOA belongs to several strong law enforcement labor organizations such as the California Coalition of Law Enforcement Associations, the Big 50 (fifty of the largest police associations in the country), the Law Enforcement Leadership Symposium, and the United Coalition of Public Safety. Collectively, we have stood united and appealed policies and measures that would have proven to be detrimental to our mission. Ironically, we have also reached agreement with many of those same parties over common goals. I trust we will be traveling down this same road in 2019.

Here are a few foreseen challenges that the POA intends to tackle in the upcoming year:

  • Force the Department to meet and confer over Chief Scott’s hastily drafted DB regarding the control of individuals and seating them during a detention. Once again, the Department ignored their responsibility under the Myers-Milias-Brown Act for full communication between an employer and representatives of employees when a change of working conditions is proposed. This proposed DB, in its current draft, has serious officer safety concerns for the POA.
  • Continue with the meet and confer process with the Department and DHR over the proposed Taser Policy passed by the Police Commission in December 2017. At that time the Police Commission stated that our members would be equipped with Tasers based on their time schedule. That schedule has been intentionally or unintentionally forgotten by the Commission. This vital piece of equipment, capable of saving lives and reducing injuries, is still a mere concept with no true date of implementation set in stone.
  • Prepare for another legislative session in Sacramento that will more than likely bring another attack on the United States Supreme Court ruling of “Graham vs. Connor” which may change the “Objectively Reasonable” standard to “Necessary Force”. The SFPOA along with OPOA, SJPOA, and LAPPL, just to name a few, were successful in seeing that AB 931 never made it out of committee and to the floor for a vote in 2018. This was partially done through an electronic letter campaign. The POA was disappointed that Senator Scott Wiener never consulted law enforcement before signing onto this legislation, and he never responded to any of the hundreds of letters sent to him by our members and supporters.
  • Continue to have substantive meetings with Chief Scott, members of the Police Commission, DPA Director Paul Henderson, members of the Board of Supervisors who wish to meet with the POA, and other elected representatives at City Hall. I have reached out to almost all of them but it has become clear that many are not willing to have an open honest productive conversation with the POA. That will not stop us from being heard.
  • Explore further options available to ensure that the promotional process is fair, balanced, transparent, and equitable. The Rule of Ten imposed by the Civil Service Commission and implemented by Chief Scott has not obtained any of those standards listed above.
  • Support our current members and especially our retired members who were exposed to unknown and possible cancerous substances while working at Hunters Point Shipyards. Additional informational meetings will be held at the POA led by attorneys from our labor firm of Messing Adams & Jasmine LLP.

This is a small sampling of what I, along with my Executive Board and your Board of Directors, will be facing this year. We are gearing up for the challenge. As always, we will not falter in our representation of the men and women who don the SFPD uniform and make sacrifices in service to the residents and visitors of our great city.

Wishing all a prosperous, safe, and peaceful 2019.