SFPD’s performed reform

The Golden State Warriors’ hire of former SFPD Chief Greg Suhr as security consultant created work for many manufactured-outrage activists this past week, but couldn’t have been more business as usual. Team owner Joe Lacob is a Sand Hill Road venture capitalist and both Sand Hill Road and the Silicon Valley it funds have long been patrons of police. If anything, the Warriors’ (temporary) hiring of Suhr only highlights the complete lack of consequences for disgraced, or worse, police in the Bay Area. It also highlights the absurdity of comments from SFPD Commission President Suzy Loftus following her resignation earlier this week:

“There’s a lot more work to do,” Loftus told the Ex Tuesday. “What matters is what did get done.”

“I think through the last two years of an incredibly divisive national conversation, we in San Francisco have leaned into the difficult conversations and made decisions to bring us closer together,” Loftus told the Chron. “I feel like I’m leaving the commission in a great position to continue the progress we made.”

What did get done, though? What difficult conversations and decisions have been had with the community that brought anyone closer together? When Toney Chaplin was named acting SFPD Chief, his reform credentials were touted time and again, yet one of his first acts was to suspend community meetings following police shootings, calling them “unproductive and disruptive.” Unproductive and disruptive because the community refused to accept police propaganda and pushed back at anything other than genuine dialogue. As recently as this week police brushed off community demands and refused to release body-camera footage to justify their shooting Sean Moore. When the department finally named Kenneth Cha as the officer who shot Moore, they did so late Friday night to minimize attention. The Chronicle was so unconcerned they had their architecture critic write the story.

On top of that, Oakland resident Brandon Simpson filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit against SFPD this week for being falsely arrested and beaten by officers in the Tenderloin in December 2015. U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer accused arresting officer Nicholas M. Buckley of perjury in May 2016 during the appeals process, yet almost a year later Officer Buckley remains employed by SFPD and the Internal Affairs investigation “remains open.” So much energy goes into crafting the narrative that SFPD is led and guided by true reformers such as Suzy Loftus, Toney Chaplin and Chief-at-some-point William Scott, yet their actions refute this narrative every single time. And what motivation do any of them have to do anything other than smile and say, “Reform!” for the cameras? As long as local media continues to parrot their narrative, SFPD can live inside its own fiction as long as it pleases.

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