The San Francisco Police Department is currently in what you might call a predicament.
The bad PR has been piling up for months now, as have the bodies of citizens killed by officers. An ad hoc panel’s review just dropped, revealing a police force rife with racial profiling problems that’s backed up by a divisive, dangerous, and utterly tone deaf union. The cops’ cop of a chief is gone, and if you really want to lose all faith in the people who are supposed to protect and serve the public, then just go back over the last year-plus of stories about the text messages.
When things are this bad, it’s easy for the media to just shoot fish in a barrel. Which brings us to the latest WTF moment in recent SFPD history: One of the two officers responsible for the shooting death of Luis Gongora in the Mission District on April 7 is working for the new SFPD bureau tasked with figuring out how to stop cops from killing civilians.
Sgt. Nate Steger is one of only four officers working on these reforms for the Professional Standards and Principled Policing Bureau, the Examiner reports. (Toney Chaplin was directing the bureau before his promotion to interim chief.) The bureau is supposed to be integral in crafting new policies that would reduce police shootings, among other responsibilities.
Folks who spoke with the Examiner were pissed.
“It is shocking to hear that given that the Gongora case is still under investigation, that one of the officers involved, and thus may have been involved in misconduct, is working in a department unit heading reforms,” said Supervisor David Campos, who represents the Mission District. “It sends a horrible message to the Gongora family and the community at large. It is further proof that the department doesn’t get it and needs reform.”
“It seems very strange that they would put him in that position,” said Public Defender Jeff Adachi, who appeared before the District Attorney’s Office’s panel reviewing SFPD. “It appears that he’s been put in a position of preventing people from doing exactly what he did. I would wonder what kinds of training he has received.”
“Wow. That’s insane,” said Ilych Sato, aka Equipto, a vocal opponent of SFPD and one of the Frisco 5 who went on a hunger strike after Gongora’s death.
It seems woefully contradictory for Steger to hold any position within this bureau, but that’s just civilian talk. We’re not experts like the Police Officers Association union, which comes up with gems like “[t]he reality for every San Francisco police officer is that you have become a political football for nearly every San Francisco politician, police commissioner, and self-promoting politico in this city” in its riveting monthly journal. Or threatens elected officials who dare disagree or challenge police conduct in this city. The union seems to control SFPD, and that’s not a good thing.
Maybe it’s time to stop doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.