SFPD's Capt. McDonough defends rogue cops

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