By G.W. Schulz
Sure, the ongoing battle between the Office of Citizen Complaints and the San Francisco Police Officer's Association makes for sexy headlines. But what about a break-in at the OCC's offices? That's hot, isn't it?
The Chronicle first reported last week that an attorney named Susan Leff who works for the OCC -- the city's police watchdog agency that collects and investigates allegations of misconduct from citizens -- had filed a restraining order against the vice president of the POA, Kevin Martin, after he allegedly swerved dangerously near her in his car Oct. 6.
The POA and the OCC don't get along so well, you see. Sometimes Leff and the OCC can be pretty good at their jobs and cops get fired or punished with suspensions when they get caught behaving badly. The folks over at the POA don't like that so much. Officers have been known to hiss under their breath at both Leff and OCC Director Kevin Allen when they cross paths at the Hall of Justice or police-commission meetings.
But for some reason, the Chron buried one of the most interesting parts of last week's story. At about 7 pm on Oct. 6, Allen and Leff both arrived at the OCC's offices on Second Street downtown after the building's alarm was tripped. Allen told us desk and file drawers were astray as if someone had been sifting through them, and the door appeared to have been kicked in.
But the Chron didn't spend much time asking why the OCC's offices had been broken into. They focused on what happened afterward. Martin happened to be one of the officers from the Southern station who responded to the building's alarm. A police report was filed, and the group departed, unable to do much else. According to allegations in the restraining order filed by Leff Oct. 10, after she exited the building into an alley and headed toward her car, Martin came racing at here in his patrol vehicle and then drove alongside her Toyota as she was leaving down Third Street yelling at her through a closed window.
The narrative was so damn interesting there just wasn't very much room left in the Chron story for asking about that break-in.
Admittedly, we're having a tough time figuring out what may have happened, too. We've submitted a records request to the department for a copy of the police report from the break-in itself, but we haven't received anything back just yet. Allen told us the building was hit during a string of burglaries in the neighborhood last year, and there's still a possibility it could have been merely a burglar looking for something to pawn. It's still certainly interesting, though, considering the politically contentious nature of the OCC's work.
Leff told us the matter with Martin was settled last Friday and she's not permitted to discuss any details of the agreement.
We reported a while back that POA head Gary Delagnes wanted Leff placed on leave until the city conducts an investigation for supposedly soliciting misconduct complaints from citizens against problem officers.