SFPD Chief Requests Suspects Not Be Forced to Sit During Arrests

Chief Scott says making suspects sit on the ground is “demeaning,” but his proposal is not sitting well with the Police Officers Association.

Police stand around a suspect detained on Taylor Street, Nov. 1, 2017 (Photo: Jessica Christian)

We’ve all seen it before. When someone is arrested in San Francisco, they are often made to sit on the ground, handcuffed, while police conduct their questioning. SFPD Chief William Scott doesn’t like the practice, and issued a memo ordering officers to stop making suspects sit on the ground or curb. But the police union is pushing back against the change, setting up another controversy over San Francisco law enforcement practices.

The new policy was first reported by KTVU’s Heather Holmes, who obtained the memo from Chief Scott earlier this week.

“Seating any handcuffed or un-handcuffed detained subject on the ground or sidewalk during an encounter should be avoided,” Scott writes in the order. “In order to carry out duties respectfully and professionally, sitting a subject on the ground or sidewalk should be done only as a last resort and only when necessary.”

Former San Francisco police captain tells KGO that he agrees with the new policy. “They feel it to be demeaning to sit down on the concrete,” Lawson says. “People walking by, it’s almost like they’re being treated like an animal.”

Fox News and other right-wing websites are having a field day criticizing this one. But more significantly, KTVU reports that the San Francisco Police Officers Association’s attorney sent a cease and desist letter to Chief Scott to block implementation of the no-sit policy.

“We had been advised by some members who have received training from the academy that this was potentially on its way and this was something that was going to be implemented but it had not yet been implemented,” the police union’s secretary Matt Lobre tells KTVU.

“You could be at a scene where your patrol car is parked half a block away and if you are dealing with a scene that is present in front of you, you may not have time to walk a person back to the patrol car,” Lobre says.

So the new policy is going to sit on hold for a while. Chief Scott and the Police Officers Association are scheduled to meet and make a determination in the weeks to come.

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