SF Supervisor proposes legislation to make police contract negotiations public

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) – San Francisco Supervisor Hillary Ronen on Tuesday proposed legislation that would make police contract negotiations between the San Francisco Police Officers Association and the city’s Human Resources Department public.

In an effort to promote transparency in the Police Department’s reform process, Ronen’s proposed legislation would require that written materials and live meetings, including “meet and confers,” between the POA and DHR be made available to the public.

According to Ronen, opportunities to push the POA to agree to implement police reforms during contract negotiations are being squandered during closed-door meetings, as acting Director of Human Resources Carol Isen is tasked with negotiating contracts without any input from elected officials.

“Police reform is so important and urgent that we must use every tool at our disposal to achieve it,” Ronen said ahead of Tuesday’s supervisor’s meeting. “To relinquish one of our greatest powers to achieve reforms — negotiations with the POA over working conditions — is a failure on the part of this city’s government. We can’t let the Department of Human Resources squash our reform measures. We don’t have time for that. I want to watch these negotiations myself and make sure the department stops giving away the store and starts negotiating hard for the reforms the entire world is demanding.”

The legislation, authored by Ronen, is being backed by District Attorney Chesa Boudin and Public Defender Mano Raju.

“We need reforms and we need to make sure that those reforms are moving faster than they have and we need to make sure the public has the ability to see the process play out,” Boudin said. “The public needs to know that wage increases are connected and directly correlated to improvements in policy and accountability, and that transparency has been sorely lacking.”    

“I believe this will help us speed up deeply needed police reforms and increase public trust in law enforcement. This decades-long practice of closed-door negotiations has resulted in a meet and confer process that is so delayed, that it, unfortunately, leads to tragedies,” Raju said. “Furthermore, I was shocked to see the contract negotiations this year included no police reforms, which is a bad deal for San Franciscans.”

Because the proposed legislation is being reviewed by the City Attorney’s Office, Ronen said she plans on introducing it formally in front of supervisors within the coming weeks and hopes they can approve it sometime in January 2021.

Ronen’s announcement comes as supervisors approved this year’s police contract negotiations, 9-2, with both supervisors Ronen and Dean Preston voting against them, at Tuesday’s board meeting.

During a discussion on the negotiations, SFPOA President Tony Montoya acknowledged the impact the in-custody death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, in Minneapolis has had on law enforcement and the conversation it has sparked around transparency.

“The POA has made it clear under my leadership that we are willing to roll up our sleeves and get to work,” he said. “There’s really no objection to those 272 recommendations. We’d be willing to sign off on many of them tomorrow if you put this (contract) forth to do that.”

In 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice outlined 272 reform recommendations, based on standards contained in former President Barack Obama’s 2015 Task Force on 21st Century Policing. So far, 90 of those recommendations have been implemented, 114 are in the process of being implemented, and the remainder are under review by either SFPD, DOJ or by Hillard Heintze, the firm hired to independently monitor the process.

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