Citing New Report on Police Misconduct, ACLU of Northern CA Renews Call for Reforms

April 23, 2003 12:00 am

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SAN FRANCISCO — The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California today called for major police reforms following the release of a highly critical new report by a citizen complaint board documenting the San Francisco Police Department’s obstruction of investigations into police misconduct.

“This report provides further proof of the breakdown in accountability within the police department and highlights the need for reform,” said Mark Schlosberg, Police Practices Policy Director of the ACLU of Northern California. “More than that, it demonstrates the failure of the Police Commission to fulfill its charter-mandated duty of overseeing the Office of Citizen Complaints and police department. Many of these issues have been raised in the past, yet the commission has failed to act.”

The highly critical report, “Response to the Board of Supervisors Regarding SFPD’s Patterns of Withholding Information Requested for OCC Investigations,” examines accountability in the San Francisco Police Department and documents a pattern of obstruction and delay that undermines the ability of the Office of Citizen Complaints (OCC) to fulfill its mission.

The OCC is charged by the City Charter with investigating all citizen complaints, and the charter requires the “prompt and full cooperation and assistance from all departments, officers and employees of the City and County,” said the ACLU.

According to the report, “despite the unequivocal duty to cooperate with the OCC, the Department has routinely obstructed and delayed OCC investigations” in a number of ways including: failing to respond to requests for documents, withholding documents in officer-involved shootings and death-in-custody cases for a year or more, and even refusing to follow a city attorney’s opinion that the city charter requires disclosure of documents.

Further, the report documents a lack of officer cooperation in attending required interviews and completing member response forms, abuses by officer representatives, failure of the Department to act on OCC findings of sustained misconduct, and lax imposition of discipline.

The OCC report follows an ACLU report, “Roadmap to Reform: Strengthening the Accountability Mechanisms of the San Francisco Police Department,” released on March 12. In it, the ACLU outlined steps that should be taken to strengthen accountability in the Department

A copy of the OCC report is available online at: and the ACLU report is available online at:

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