SFPD's Capt. McDonough defends rogue cops

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Our March 23 cover story featured Officer Larry Bertrand's image.

The San Francisco Police Department has steadfastly tried to ignore back-to-back cover stories in the Bay Guardian and SF Weekly that detailed the campaign of harassment and brutality against nightclubs and parties in SoMa by a pair of undercover cops.

The fact that those two cops – SFPC Officer Larry Bertrand and state agent Michelle Ott – have reportedly been absent from the scene in recent weeks might indicate that the department has heeded the outcry and put a leash on them. But now, in the “Captain’s Comments” in today’s Southern Station Newsletter, Capt. Daniel McDonough – who, along with Commander James Dudley, is believed by nightlife advocates to be behind the crackdown – has issued a full-throated defense of the pair’s actions.

Despite the fact that those actions (including repeated and selective harassment of certain clubs, illegal property seizures, threats and retaliation against complainants, and unnecessary force) have resulted in multiple legal actions against the city, McDonough claims they have somehow prevented unspecified “problems” and “violence and disorder.”

That negative claim is impossible to prove or disprove, but it’s certainly true that it was the arrival of aggressive cops at a January party that we wrote about that precipitated the “violence and disorder” that night.

McDonough writes, in full: 

There has been a recent deluge of articles about Nightlife in the Southern District.  The articles particularly focused on two fine individuals, Officer Bertrand of Southern Station and Agent Ott of the Alcoholic Beverage Commission. (ABC) 

One thing the articles didn’t have to focus on was the amount of violence occurring in the District at the late night venues.  This I believe has been directly related to the good work of these dedicated Officers.  In conjunction with the members of Southern Station, Officer Bertrand and Agent Ott would regularly inspect nightclubs and bars to ensure compliance with laws and codes that have been enacted to have an orderly establishment and to also stop the rampant amount of unpermitted parties that would arguably cause problems.  Because of their diligence and professionalism the amount of violence and disorder has been reduced.  Establishments that routinely would have numerous calls for services started to take responsibility to handle the influx of people and establish security procedures.  The benefits reaped by the citizens of San Francisco by the actions of Officer Bertrand and Agent Ott are measured in the lack of homicides shootings and knifings that haven’t occurred because of their good work.  They are to be commended.  I would also like to thank all of those establishment owners who communicate to me their positive relationships with those two officers.

Community Meeting 

Wednesday April 21 2010 6pm

Community Room

South Beach Harbor Pier 40

Comments

I wonder how many private parties they crash over in Sea Cliff.

Posted by Jerry Jarvis on Apr. 07, 2010 @ 4:59 pm

The Bay Guardian filed the complaint with the San Francisco civil grand jury, which led to the formation of the Entertainment Commission in 2002. It has a long antagonistic history with police authority.

Unfortunately, the recommendations of the civil grand jury were essentially disregarded and nightclub sponsors gained undue influence at City Hall. In late 2009, legislation sponsored by Mayor Gavin Newsom virtually stripped residents of any say in when, where, and how nightclubs operate near their homes, including 2-6:00 a.m.

Clubs developed under the permissive atmosphere of the Newsom/Brown administration degrade our most beloved neighborhoods, bringing unprecedented violence, illegal drug trade, vandalism, and disturbances incompatible with community revitalization. Not only our communities but also our number one industry, tourism, is in jeopardy.

In a way, the Bay Guardian is responsible for the “crackdown” it perceives as unjust. The unprecedented ascendancy of nightclubs and violation of the Constitutional rights of residents to peaceful use of their property calls for drastic measures.

Thank you, Bay Guardian, for dedicated officers Bertrand and Ott.

Posted by Mayor Gav's Got to Go on Apr. 07, 2010 @ 8:37 pm

Perhaps either MGGTG or Capt. McDonough can offer some support for their claims of "unprecedented violence" in SoMa, because frankly, I just don't see it. I attend parties and clubs in SoMa regularly and the only violence I've seen or heard direct accounts of have been inflicted by the police. What violence was prevented by roughly arresting bartender Javier Magallon for not having an ID on him before The Room was even open? What was the purpose in repeatedly asking to see Club Caliente's licenses and the IDs of its mostly Latino patrons? Even the "illegal" underground parties are remarkably effective at self-policing, with violent episodes caused almost exclusively by Bertrand and other officers kicking down doors and stealing people's laptops. When the nightlife starts to get out of control, as it does occasionally in North Beach, then perhaps a more aggressive police posture is justified. But that's just not the case in SoMa, Bertrand's beat. As for "hurting tourism," that's a hilarious claim. The food and entertainment industry IS tourism, it's what draws the tourists and where they spend their money, and SoMa has always been an important center for that industry. If the police and the NIMBY condo owners (many of whom actually have deed restrictions warning that they live in an area with active nightlife, including the neighbor that's been giving Slim's such a hard time) succeed in quashing nightlife, the entire city will suffer.

Posted by steven on Apr. 08, 2010 @ 8:54 am

Sunday morning, 2nd and Minna. Still not seeing the violence Steven?

Posted by duh on Apr. 13, 2010 @ 7:06 pm

The same police state this paper rallies for when they feel a dose of thought policing is necessary is the same police state they rail against when it also applies to them? Give me a break.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 08, 2010 @ 11:10 am

typical.

"One thing the articles didn’t have to focus on was the amount of violence occurring in the District at the late night venues. This I believe has been directly related to the good work of these dedicated Officers."

besides being syntax-challeged--mcdonough seems to imply "the amount of violence" has been "directly related" to the two officers, which is oxymoronic, unless he's trying to say that Bertrand and Ott cause violence, for which they should be commended--its unclear how violence is being reduced by harassing and assaulting patrons, as both articles provided numerous examples of.

"In conjunction with the members of Southern Station, Officer Bertrand and Agent Ott would regularly inspect nightclubs and bars to ensure compliance with laws and codes that have been enacted to have an orderly establishment and to also stop the rampant amount of unpermitted parties that would arguably cause problems.'

more boilerplate cop-speak, followed by an unsubstantiated claim that illegal house parties cause violence. actually, you can make the opposite argument fairly easily: SoMa warehouse parties with smaller, mostly invited crowds, avoid the actual violence of large,unruly North Beach and Tenderloin venues,plus, after-hours parties reduce the probability of DUI-related incidents directly following 2 am closing time.

"Because of their diligence and professionalism the amount of violence and disorder has been reduced. Establishments that routinely would have numerous calls for services started to take responsibility to handle the influx of people and establish security procedures. The benefits reaped by the citizens of San Francisco by the actions of Officer Bertrand and Agent Ott are measured in the lack of homicides shootings and knifings that haven’t occurred because of their good work. "

this would be far more credible had any statistical evidence been offered to back it up. and it's still not clear how cops illegally seizing property and pouring out licensed bars' alcohol has any correlation whatsoever to a decrease in homicides, shootings, or knifings.

sounds like the war on fun is far from over--and this time,it's political!

Posted by Fun on War on Apr. 08, 2010 @ 1:04 pm

I was at a lot of those parties, every weekend in fact. They were one of my favorite things about SF nightlife. I never came across one fight or an act of violence. Just some cool SF locals listening to music and having a good time.

Officer McDonough's statements are BULLSHIT. I mean they have to say something, right? They have to defend their own employees, right?

I even knew of off duty officers working security at those events. What are you gonna say about that McDonough?

I recall one night as Larry and his goons raided a party by 6th and mission like it was a Columbian drug bust. Coming in with badges in the air and placing people in hand cuffs. Mean while drug dealers and crack heads were all over 6th street. What was the point? Tax payers money went to pay for those 15 officers working overtime at 4am. And what did they get out of it? Just breaking up some kids 22nd birthday party :( It was a sad night for SF nightlife

Posted by Guest on Apr. 08, 2010 @ 3:51 pm

"The benefits reaped by the citizens of San Francisco by the actions of Officer Bertrand and Agent Ott are measured in the lack of homicides shootings and knifings that haven’t occurred because of their good work. They are to be commended"

Captain Mc Donough's above absurdist double negative rankles.

With this statement he literally admits that taxpaid Bertrand and Ott fail to reduce shootings/knifings via their undisputed gestapo tactics then commends them for said failure.

There may be an oath violation in the above mission statement- and reason for more citzens to join in appropriate legal action.

Posted by Guest Jeffrey Friend on Apr. 08, 2010 @ 7:49 pm

"The benefits reaped by the citizens of San Francisco by the actions of Officer Bertrand and Agent Ott are measured in the lack of homicides shootings and knifings that haven’t occurred because of their good work. They are to be commended"

Captain Mc Donough's above absurdist double negative rankles.

With this statement he literally admits that taxpaid Bertrand and Ott fail to reduce shootings/knifings via their undisputed gestapo tactics then commends them for said failure.

There may be an oath violation in the above mission statement- and reason for more citzens to join in appropriate legal action.

Posted by Guest Jeffrey Friend on Apr. 08, 2010 @ 8:06 pm

DNA Lounge, Slim's, GAMH, Cafe du Nord, none of these clubs have had "violent incidents" in recent memory yet all have been harassed by the ABC and, in many cases, SFPD. Has there ever been a need for police "services" at Bootie? And if not what justifies ticketing DNA for "blocking the sidewalk"? What "violence" was prevented at Bourbon and Branch when they were hassled by the ABC about infusing liquor with fruit and spices? Is B&B notorious for its brawls? What violence was prevented by threatening venues for not serving enough Mexican food? Is there a connection between selling more nachos in SOMA, and a reduction in shootings in North Beach?

Interesting that the newsletter fails to commend cops on the North Beach beat for citing clubs like Suede for their many violations over time. Why not? Because despite SFPD's recent testimony at the EC hearings that Suede was a "known problem," not one single SFPD ticket was ever issued to the club. Isn't that a shame? Maybe the newsletter could be congratulating police on taking action against an actual violent club, if they'd bothered to take any at all.

Posted by SA on Apr. 09, 2010 @ 2:19 am

All you ignorant people keep mis-stating the obvious...what violence?! How about the shooting that happened in SOMA, early this morning? http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/04/11/BAG41CT67P.D...
Is that not enough proof for you? Interesting how Bertrand and Ott haven't been around lately, and the nightclub violence is starting up again...coincidence? I think not...
Captain McDonough-you need to do everything you can to have your officers get a handle on SOMA, just like Bertrand and Ott did. Do you think people are still gonna want to party there, when it's no longer safe?! Of course not! I commend you for pointing out the obvious and recognizing a job well done by these exemplary officers...too bad there aren't more of them to go around.

Posted by Guest Sound off on Apr. 11, 2010 @ 7:58 pm

That's the sound heard from all the morons who commented that they "aren't seeing the violence."

How about now? 4 people shot, 1 dead on 2nd Street at a hub of 4 clubs. It happens in the parking lots when they all leave, mugging each other and taunting.

What about the 4 shot less than 6 months ago at the Regency on Van Ness?

What about the 5 shot, 1 dead at Suede?

The "hit over the heat with a beer bottle" or sexual assaults or drugged drinks don't lead the headlines.

War on Fun? Look in the mirror- The enemy is you.

Posted by duh on Apr. 13, 2010 @ 7:03 pm

Well, it seems like you're saying, "it is incorrect to criticize these officers because their actions make tragedies such as the ones I listed less likely to happen." I don't think that's true, no else seems to, and I'm apparently the only one who could be goaded into feeding the troll.

Nobody, even the heathens at the SFBG, wants drunk people ruining someone's day/week/life. But confiscating laptops and issuing trumped-up citations doesn't make anyone safer. It's not like DNA has a reputation for fights, y'know? Saying that it's better for our cops to be on a patrol loop at 2am than measuring sidewalk clearance at 11pm seems pretty apolitical to me.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 14, 2010 @ 12:57 am

c

Posted by Guest on Apr. 30, 2010 @ 9:04 pm

Hey Captain Crunch

You are a lying sack of shit. Go back to fucking Arizona.

Posted by Guest HA HA HA HA on May. 05, 2010 @ 10:58 am