Rooting out the bad apples? - Page 2

SFPD creates a new policy for tracking and reporting police misconduct — but the other shoe has yet to drop
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A host of questions surround this new development, and one of the first to emerge is whether officers who are still on patrol duty despite major offenses in their histories will ultimately be shown the door as a result of the internal investigative procedure. Gascón alluded to as much, saying, "When some one commits a criminal act, they taint the entire organization. When we have a bad apple, we're going to deal with the bad apple."

And while he declined to give a tally of the list, the chief did make it sound as if the investigations had already been completed. "We have basically gone through the process of assessing. We have vetted our entire department and to the greatest extent that we can tell, we know what needs to be known."

In an era of economic austerity, another question that has been raised is what the impact will be for officers who have been reassigned to desk jobs in the wake of misconduct charges — earning salaries much higher than would-be civilians capable of performing the same tasks. A recently issued report by the Controller's Office found that the SFPD could do more tighten its spending. "The department needs to improve its controls over overtime and premium pay," the office concluded after an audit. "While the department has reduced overtime costs in recent years, it does not consistently follow its policies and procedures for earning, documenting, and approving court appearance premium pay and acting assignment pay."

Aside from the spending issue are speculations about the political ramifications. Some have been wondering what kind of backlash could be prompted from the politically powerful SF POA if the new Brady protocol results in dismissals or demotions.

The issue of reassignments is alluded to briefly at the close of the chief's bureau order. "This procedure does not address the situation in which the department determines that the existence of Brady material may prevent an employee from effectively testifying and consequently may limit the assignments available to the employee," the order notes. "The department intends to implement a separate procedure to address that situation after [meeting] and conferring with the Police Officers Association and other affected employee organizations."

But that alone is a red flag: SF POA will almost certainly resist any efforts to use the Brady material discipline officers — or to get rid of cops who shouldn't be on the force. And if Gascón allows the union to set the terms, plenty of bad apples will remain in the barrel.