By G.W. Schulz
Welcome to another edition of "What's the cop union pissed about now?" where we summarize the open contempt and paranoia filling the POA Journal, the official publication of the San Francisco Police Officers Association, which leads each month with a generally aimless yet sometimes hilarious diatribe on somebody or something in the city from the union's outspoken president Gary Delagnes.
This month, Delagnes targets the Office of Citizen Complaints (no surprise), the San Francisco Chronicle (no surprise), the San Francisco Police Commission (again, no surprise), "community nut jobs," "the crazy politics in this town" and the city's proposed Early Intervention System designed to tag officers with disciplinary problems, which many cities already have in place. Basically anyone or anything that threatens to step in the way of police officers in San Francisco is asking for a barb from Delagnes.
(Contract negotiations are ongoing, so the Human Resources Department, the City Attorney's Office, and the Mayor's Office could make the list soon.)
Least shocking of all, the new Journal contains a simply gleeful assessment of the recent city audit shredding the Office of Citizen Complaints for doing such a poor job watchdogging the police department, which it was formed to do by voters in 1983. POA Vice President Kevin Martin points out that the OCC hasn’t put together an annual report since 2002 and that the pace of OCC investigations in recent years has been much too slow.
But would the POA really prefer a well-organized OCC that aggressively investigated police conduct and did so with a bold executive director? The last one resigned just before the audit was released, and he wasn’t exactly known as a flamethrower.
Perhaps it’s the very existence of the OCC that infuriates the POA. How dare any outside agency question the conduct of a major metropolitan police department where problem officers are hardly an exception to the rule and much more an inevitability? Martin’s comments seem to sum up this notion quite nicely.
“While so much scrutiny has been brought upon the police department and the members of this association, the OCC has been running roughshod over our members’ rights and due process. Well enough is enough! The change has to start immediately, and it will be incumbent on the police commission to instigate this change. Much has been said by our mayor and other civic leaders about the pressing need to ‘fix’ the police culture in the SFPD. Fix? Fix what? Don’t fix what isn’t broken! Instead, spend the time and resources fixing what so clearly is broken, the floundering OCC.”
Martin's right. Much has been said by the mayor about accountability, but little has been done. Come election time, who’s going to get better treatment? One of the city’s most powerful unions? Or the police accountability lobby, if any such thing really exists as a political force in San Francisco?
By the way, Kevin Martin is the same gentleman that OCC attorney Susan Leff had to file a restraining order against last year. Remember that one?