‘WHEN WE WERE YOUNG’: Gen Xers don’t wanna be cops ‘cause they’re fat and lazy, says Gary Delagnes -- PLUS! Police commissioner David Campos responds to the POA’s call for his resignation
By G.W. Schulz
There’s never a shortage of bitching over at the San Francisco Police Officers Association. And the best place to find it lying exposed, unshaven and clad in patent-leather stirrups without so much as a single blush is in the cop union’s monthly newsletter, the POA Journal.
As attorney Mark Schlosberg at the ACLU of Northern California will tell you, there’s no better place than the POA Journal for an honest assessment of what the SFPD’s rank and file is really thinking. And leading each edition of the Journal is a scribe from outspoken union president Gary Delagnes that's sometimes funny but mostly unsettling.
Without further ado, ladies and gentleman, welcome to another edition of “What’s the city’s cop union bitching about now?”
This past year actually treated the POA quite well, what with the state Supreme Court’s Copley decision sealing off police disciplinary records from public scrutiny, Berkeley losing a subsequent legal challenge to the ruling and the SFPD’s general success in slowing down the implementation of a program designed to track and flag lunatic cops.
San Francisco’s own Assemblyman Mark Leno is trying to balance the scales with a new proposed bill despite an army of law-enforcement lobbyists he’ll no doubt face, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
Good year or bad, it never takes long for Delagnes to approach his favorite subject with inexorable vigor: stupid, fathead lefties and their stupid, fathead police oversight bodies. By the second paragraph, he’s made it to the phrase “runaway civilian oversight” before he’s managed to get around to indicting “Generation X” for being self-interested brats with no ambition.
His conclusion? Whatever incentive lazy, crank-addicted Gen Xers might have had in the first place to enroll in the police academy and help augment the city’s shortage of cops is crushed by their fear of radical cop haters. In other words, Gen Xers are so terrified of the civilian-led agency in San Francisco charged with documenting and investigating allegations of police misconduct, they don’t want to be cops. You nailed it, Gary!
“Radical cop haters” for Gary Delagnes means the San Francisco Office of Citizen Complaints, a body created by voters many years ago to ensure civilians had an independent venue for reporting mistreatment, which, like it or not, happens. The POA wouldn’t shed so much as a tear if the OCC’s offices were burned to the ground.
Gary’s pontifications are so good, we’re gonna quote them straight from his mouth:
“Quite simply, this appears to be a generation that has little interest in working nights, weekends, or for that matter a 40-hour work week. It cuts into their leisure time and as one expert in law enforcement stated, ‘We have moved from a generation that lived to work to a generation that works to live.’ These younger people are not particularly fond of confrontation, physical altercation, or verbal interaction. The general belief is that we have raised a generation of ‘Day Traders’ who would rather spend their time ‘sipping ice tea’ then slugging it out with a parolee that doesn’t want to go back to prison.”
“Day Traders?” What the hell is he talking about? And how is an expert in law enforcement an expert in Gen-X work habits? And I like slugging it out with parolees!
So the only reason Gen Xers don’t wanna be cops is because they’re pussies. Isn’t Alex Fagan Jr. a Gen Xer? Maybe that’s not the kind of brawling Delagnes had in mind. If the OCC’s offices did burn to the ground, the fire would surely rage without attention, because Gen Xers are also too chickenshit to become firefighters.
Anyway, speaking of the Fagan family, state lawmaker Mark Leno is moving forward with a bill that would trump the state Supreme Court's disastrous Copley decision, which enabled local jurisdictions to block public requests to view records dealing with misbehaving cops. The Copley decision is needlessly complex and not worth summarizing here completely. (Don’t believe us? Read it.) Really what’s needed is serious clarification from Sacramento, and that’s what Leno is aiming for.
Previously, when disciplinary cases either from the police chief or OCC landed before the San Francisco Police Commission, sunshine triggered and the public could attend hearings on the cases and review the charges. By then, the allegations had endured a fair amount of scrutiny, so baseless charges wouldn’t surface in the public domain immediately. Essentially, the state Supreme Court said no to even that much access, and when Berkeley interpreted the decision as allowing at least the public to attend live disciplinary hearings -- like a court proceeding -- a Superior Court judge shut that down, too. State and local law enforcement unions had been asking for this kind of special protection (which other public employees don’t receive) for years. And they got it.
Leno’s AB 1648 would revise the special protections that already specifically prevented departments from releasing internal personnel files, thus allowing limited public access to case information, just like before. Think of all the stories you’ve read over the last decade about police misconduct. Under Copley, none of them likely would have been reported, save for those newspapers (and readers) benefiting from brave leakers. One of the last files we obtained before the decision went into effect involved three SFPD officers who allegedly hit on underage girls while on duty. (“Hitting on” included offering them alcohol from the trunk of their patrol car. No shit. They resigned.) Copley even forced us to dismantle a new feature we'd created.
We hear AB 1648 has cleared the Rules Committee and is on its way to Public Safety. There’s also supposedly a local board resolution proposed urging its passage, but I had trouble finding it today.
It should be noted, however, that there’s an important difference between someone like Gary Delagnes and Gavin Newsom. Delagnes will give even Guardian reporters his personal cell phone number, and when you call him for a comment, he’ll hash it out with you directly and explain exactly how he feels, regardless of any perceived differences in opinion. No public relations firewall. No delicately manicured persona. He represents San Francisco police officers, not the San Francisco Bay Guardian, after all, and you’ll get his forthright perspective, unlike Gavin Newsom who would apparently rather simulate fellatio on a microphone than respond to a question from Dan Noyes.
As far as the POA’s take on the cop shortage is concerned, it’s ridiculous to drag a pen over an entire generation and condemn them for low academy enrollments when the ranks of prison guards, for instance, have ballooned in recent years. By the time Ted Conover put together his instantly classic 2000 book, Newjack, for which he spent a year working in New York’s Sing Sing state prison, the number of guards had tripled nationally over two decades. Private jail contractors are finding plenty of young people to guard inmates, in fact, and paying them next to nothing. Not to mention, California nurses are in short supply these days, too, but not because potential applicants fear the state’s regulatory structure.
And finally, the POA this week called on police commissioner David Campos -- often a reliable, common-sense vote -- to resign for supporting medicinal marijuana laws in California and more or less exhibiting an opinion that doesn’t comply neatly with the department’s predictable dogma on drug laws. Here’s what Campos had to say about the whole thing, according to an e-mail now circulating:
“I just wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support. I am proud to stand with you and there is nothing the POA can do to intimidate me. No matter what they say, we know we are right. The people of the State of California and our City and County of San Francisco have spoken and we are making sure their will is implemented. Thank you.”
A final word from Newjack:
"In large areas of New York and other states, corrections is the only growth industry, the most likely profession for thousands of young people. But how odd to devote yourself professionally to confining others in a small space. 'You're just a forty-thousand-dollar baby-sitter,' one instructor told us in summary, after describing the misbehavior of inmates. Only, most baby-sitters can't get away with the use of force, and most are not seriously endangered by their charges."
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