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Closing the Books on 2023

December 1, 2023
Tracy McCray - SFPOA President

What a year it has been for the Association, I was already serving as the Acting President and Co-Chair of the Negotiating Committee trying to get a contract nailed down for the membership, when my term began. With an excellent team at the table and a great Co-Chair, Vice President Kevin Worrell, we set our sights on getting the best outcome for our members out of the City. As somewhat of a perfectionist, I always think: what more could we have done? At the end of the day, what we did get was excellent. This three-year contract will continue to keep us at the top in the Bay Area in terms of salary and retention pay. Our retention pay is the best there is! I did think we could have gotten it done without going to mediation. Fortunately, it was a short one and we weren’t forced to go to arbitration, which we were prepared to do if needed.

Knowing that I was blessed to serve a three-year term as the new POA President, challenges were coming from everywhere. How do we represent a dwindling membership where we have lost people to other departments, others leaving the profession all together, and what has cut me to the bone, members being terminated for not being vaccinated. That loss of experience is a big hill to overcome, but it must be climbed and conquered. Yes, we may be short on our staffing and people still aren’t as interested in the profession with the volume we would like, but we haven’t folded, and we haven’t quit. Quite the opposite, we have dug in our heels, and we are coming out swinging! We are taking on new challenges that make others run and weep in a corner. We continue to battle on the labor front with the Police Commission and yes even the department. I see no end to the battle with the DPA! It’s the nature of the job and our purpose is to ensure that policy and laws are followed.

The most daunting challenge is when a member suffers a catastrophic injury, like the one suffered by Sgt. Kevin Brugalatta earlier this year. If there is one thing I know, God carries you through some of the toughest and darkest times. KB is a fighter, and he has shown that through the months of rehab, the surgeries, and the new changes to his life. He has accepted a challenge that frankly I am in awe of. He inspires us to rise to the occasion and to continue to fight for him and with him for anything he may need in his recovery. Much like when Officer Elia Lewin-Tankel suffered his catastrophic injury, people like Dan Casey religiously visit with him and let him know he is not forgotten. He and Kevin and all the others who can no longer do this job through injury or illness, are still our family. Family from many different walks of life, cultures, races, sex, and faiths. You have wonderful friends and family that have rallied around to uplift and to keep the fighting flame alive and I am proud to be a part of an organization that continues this tradition.

We have also been lucky to gain allies in our fight. We continue to lead the way in modernizing a model department. We have people picking up the battle cry to bring us the tools that we need to do our job better and smarter. If we can’t get a body then a pair of video surveillance eyes or two or three, can also do the trick! I can’t thank all the people that I have met at events panels, etc. who come up and tell me that they are supportive and want to know what more they can do to get the city that they love back on track. I tell them all that every single SFPD officer that I have the honor and privilege to represent, say thank you. I ask that they continue to have their individual voices heard, that they continue to show up at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ meetings, the Rules Committee meetings, and the Police Commission meetings. I ask that they let their thoughts and voices be heard when they hear or read something that doesn’t pass the smell test. This is our city, and everyone must fight for it. If it makes people uncomfortable to be questioned, then we are hitting a nerve! Nothing like seeing a politician squirming to come up with the answer they think will satisfy you! We will continue to need those allies when the next officer involved shooting happens, or we have people who are still not satisfied with the decisions we make in doing a complex job, when some will still ring the bell of defund or reallocate money away from public safety and tools for us to do our jobs. We will always have haters, that just comes with the territory.

Each year we have a little in-fighting with the parent company, which is normal in relationships, and this year was no different. From promotional issues to discipline, comp time payout, to overtime, there has been no shortage of things that we bantered about with the department. This is part of the job; everyone pushes as much as they can until someone else pushes back. Knowing that we are short staffed (like a broken record, who the hell doesn’t know we are short staffed?) the brunt of the work was going to fall on the patrol officer who is out there pushing a radio car trying to answer the calls coming in every single day. This meant a sacrifice was going to be made, where people were going to have stay later or come in earlier on their shift, work on their days off. Meaning maybe not enough quality time with the family. Knowing this was coming, we asked to meet and confer with the department on mandatory overtime. We at the Association wanted something that would protect our members from burning out both mentally and physically because of the demands of this job. We signed an agreement that I believed was going to work out, but it had too many cooks in the kitchen as the saying goes. Everyone had an idea that could make the mandatory OT process and procedure better or more efficient but, in the end, it is just a cross to bear and it will be with us for the foreseeable future. We are still trying to work something out, but like the Army private away from home serving their country, we got that Dear John letter, that the department was terminating the agreement. Well, it ain’t over until it’s over so we will see what will happen with mandatory overtime coming up.

As I look back on this year, there is always a moment or two, of something that I know I could have done better, or chosen a different direction, but much like police work, I must evaluate facts I have at the time, what my eyes are telling me, what my ears are hearing and make the best decision that I can. One thing I will not sacrifice is integrity, that the rules must apply evenly across the board to everyone, regardless of who you are, or who you know. Without integrity we are all just crabs in a barrel trying to bring each other down and that cannot be allowed to happen.

As we look towards 2024, I am proud to say that we have finished strong from handling APEC where the eyes of the world were on us, to that solo officer pushing a radio car at 3:30 am to answer a call for service, I know yet again that we will be there for whoever picks up the phone to call us in their hour of need! Also in 2024, the City elections are upon us, and it will be interesting to see how people come at the Association and why. We must never forget the past but learn from it, for there are always snakes hiding in the weeds to strike when it is convenient for them, but we must also strike when it is convenient for us. As the famous saying goes: fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

For my end of year shout outs, as always it is truly the staff at the SFPOA that keeps us going: Cyndee, Paul, Mike, Leah, Val, Kevin M (I am surrounded by a lot of Kevins) Debbie, Alberto, Ray, Georgette, Linda, Mike, Matt, and Sean without your support and love of what you do, I could not do what I do, so thank you from the bottom of my heart for being there for all of us!

To my guys, Kevin W, Kevin L, Dan, and Louie, thank you for your wisdom, for your genius, for your dedication to the members answering calls all hours of the day, responding out when a member needs one of us. For being the upstanding dedicated public servants that you are day in and day out! Lace up those boots as we are getting after it in 2024!

To Rocky, the best damn lawyer a gal can have! Thank you for your guidance and instructions, for keeping me on an even keel when there are times when I want to go old school to take care of business. Thank you for accepting the challenge of leading this organizing through all the labor challenges that have arisen and continue to be there for us in 2024. You and your team, T Wats, Pete, and your whole firm are the damn best!

To the Board of Directors, you challenge me and surprised me at every meeting, keep it up, keep representing the members with the fiercest mentality in this city! I love when we butt heads and ideas are flying across the table, it helps us be better because if no one else is, then we damn sure are carrying the torch!

To the LDF Panel Attorneys and Defense Reps, for every single person you have sat with across the table from DPA, Police Commission Hearings, courtroom, or Chief’s hearing, thank you! Your fighting for our members’ rights is perhaps the most important function we do as an Association because we have rights, and they need defending and nobody does it better in this City then every single one of you! Although we lost one of the greats in Chris Shea, I believe each of you carry a little piece of him every time you go to battle for us! God Bless you all!

To Dustin, Tom, and Alex, thank you for continuing the fifteen minutes of fame for the Association. Thank you for making us and our messages relevant and impactful and lifting us to a place that we had not been in quite a while. Your expertise in your craft does not go unnoticed!

To the membership, what can I say to a group of people that get piled on and keep coming back for more! Like any family we have our disagreements but at the end the day, I want what is best for each one of you. If that means you spend 30 years at a station you love, so be it, if that is moving up through the ranks, so be it, if it is doing a little bit of this or that, have at it! Grow at your pace and in your space! Thank you all for the honor to serve you and I will continue to do my best for all of you in 2024.

To my family at home, if I don’t say it often or enough, I love you and thank you!

Finally, to my consigliere, thank you for providing the truth in its raw form about what this job entails and dealing with its highs and lows, See you at the office!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to All!