Policing the police

Copyright 2006 The Chronicle Publishing Co.
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SAN FRANCISCO — Mayor Gavin Newsom and the San Francisco Police Commission say they are serious about screening out violent officers ill-suited for street work. But they'll be undercutting this pledge if a flawed reform package goes through.

About 100 officers on the 2,100-member force are responsible for a quarter of the reported excessive force used in police work. It's a number that proves the department hasn't done enough to identify and remove trouble-prone cops.

The mayor says he wants to change this picture, but look what's on the table: A plan that doesn't track all the trouble signs that other cities use in evaluating police conduct. These proposals also allow the police union a seat on the review panel. The labor group has played down San Francisco's dismal record on screening ill-suited officers.

The San Francisco Police Department says the package is only a draft, and adds that several other cities include a police labor representative in reviews. Also, several commissioners promise to strengthen the plan before putting it in place.

Let's hope so [says the San Francisco Chronicle]. San Francisco needs a well-managed police force that meets the highest standards. In this case, it means mustering out officers who repeatedly use excessive force and letting the others do their vital work. 

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