San Francisco Police Officers Association reacts to mayor’s list of police reforms

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — Thursday night, city leaders and the San Francisco Police Officers Association are reacting to the mayor’s road-map to police reform.

Overall, they say the list of reforms is very reasonable.

They agree there’s always room for improvement, however the police officers association says many of these reforms are things that they’re already doing right now.

Instead, they say one of the biggest changes will be diverting police response from non-criminal activity — like calls to homeless encampments. 

“We’re not perfect, it’s not a perfect system,” Tony Montoya said. “There’s always room for improvement.”

Tony Montoya, president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association says he welcomes change, but says several of the mayor’s police reforms are things the police department already does — like bias training.

“When there comes a 21st century policing we are so ahead of the curve compared to other major police departments in this country, we’re already doing much of the stuff they already ask us,” he said.

In addition to addressing police bias, the mayor’s reforms include not allowing the use of military-grade weapons, like tear gas against unarmed people. 

“Your average police officer on the street does not have access to that type of equipment. That equipment is only used by our tactical unit,” Montoya said. “They are highly trained in it. You look at any of the recent news stories, that type of equipment was never deployed by the San Francisco Police Department.”

Instead, one of the reforms Montoya says will make a huge difference is the mayor’s call to end the use of police as a response to non-criminal activity. 

“My members are highly educated. Many have degrees beyond criminal justice but we are not mental health clinicians,” Montoya said. “We are not addiction counselors.”

Supervisor Matt Haney, who’s district includes the Tenderloin, Civic Center and SoMa, where many of these issues are concentrated, agrees but says right now, the reforms listed are vague and need concrete solutions.

“What I fear is we get to a point where we’re just cutting and we’re not creating real solutions and what my district needs is real solutions,” Haney said. “We need people who are professionals, mental health professionals who are out there on the street, immediately responding 24/7 and getting people help.”

KRON4’s Taylor Bisacky also spoke with the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce Thursday, which represents hundreds of businesses in the city.

Because SFPD responds to thousands of non-criminal calls like homeless encampments, they say this reform will be a huge help.

They hope it frees up police to focus their attention on more serious crimes to their businesses like burglary and robbery.

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