News & Politics

Did San Francisco Stumble Into a Good Police Reform Idea?

Did San Francisco Stumble Into a Good Police Reform Idea?
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

PBS, which should be defunded, reports on a little-noted conversation taking place in San Francisco. As Minneapolis gets set to “dismantle” its police department, and its citizens and businesses get set to flee for just about anywhere else, San Francisco may have stumbled onto an actual police reform that nearly everyone can get behind. Seriously.

In San Francisco, the board of supervisors is considering a resolution introduced last week that would urge the civil service commission there to prohibit hiring officers with a history of serious misconduct.

Supervisor Shamann Walton makes the connection to what happened in Minneapolis:

We know that there are officers who definitely have had misconduct cases in cases of excessive force that are currently on our our police force. We do know that the police officer that killed George Floyd had over a dozen complaints of excessive force and had had a couple of shootings that resulted in death.

This seems like common sense. Citizens don’t want bad police officers. Good police officers don’t want bad police officers. So who might oppose this?

Look for the union label.

The officers that I’ve talked to think that this is common sense. I’ve heard that there are some rumblings from the Police Officers Association.

The Police Officers Association = the union. Police unions have an interesting relationship with their respective city governments. In Austin, the police association has publicly opposed the city’s homeless camping policy, taking to social media to point out that police think it’s a bad idea and that it is causing problems. The APA has also extended olive branches to the peaceful protesters.

At the same time, police unions have built up a reputation for protecting bad officers from having their disciplinary problems follow them, as I recently wrote about in San Antonio. And when public-sector unions of any stripe sit down to negotiate on contracts that deal with pay, benefits and the handling of disciplinary records, they’re negotiating without much if any input from the voters in a relationship in which both the unions and the politicians they support with campaign donations can rent-seek all day. So they do. They have for decades.

San Francisco’s last Republican mayor finished his term in 1964.

Defunding Police Is Fringe. But Police Unions Do Need Reform.

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