SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- A Muslim San Francisco police officer says he's been a target of retaliation after complaining to his superiors about racist and religious remarks made by fellow officers.
San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi told reporters the officer's case demonstrated that the department was still beset by deeply ingrained bias.
"In order to eliminate racism in the ranks, police culture must rid itself of its 'no snitching' ethos," Adachi said. "Fear of speaking out due to retaliation has been an enormous barrier to real reform in San Francisco."
In a statement released at the news conference, the officer said he came to the United States with his parents with he was 8 years old and wanted to join the police department from a young age.
"When I joined the San Francisco police department, I was fulfilling a boyhood dream," he wrote. "I had admired the SFPD since my family came to this country. I was 8 years old, and a kind SFPD officer helped my family find their way after arriving at SFO."
The officer, who is choosing to remain anonymous, recently graduated from the police academy and was assigned to SFPD's Central Station located in North Beach.
"That's when I experienced blatant racism and bigotry toward me by some officers and Sergeants," he wrote. "They also expressed their contempt towards other minorities. I told them many times that their racist comments and actions towards me needed to stop. When their behavior escalated, that's when I decided to make a formal complaint to HR."
On Nov. 9, 2017, he made a complaint, alleging he was not only harassed for being Middle Eastern and Muslim, but witnessed racism and homophobia by officers.
Among his allegations were:
- The officer claims he was repeatedly accused by colleagues of being a terrorist. This harassment included being told he could leave his RPGs and grenades at home, and being asked to inform an officer if his family members were planning an attack so the officer could "put them down gently."
- He also reported being asked if his police radio earpiece was connected to a bomb. In one instance, an officer claimed to see wires coming out of the officer's duty bag and said "tick tick, that's what I hear."
- Twice he found hateful graffiti on his locker. In an August, 2017 incident, someone scrawled "tick-tick." On Nov. 6, 2017, the officer found and photographed graffiti on his locker that included an ISIS flag and the words "go back."
- He reported several instances of anti-Muslim harassment by fellow officers, such as a colleague applauding the Trump Administration's Muslim ban, warning against Muslims infiltrating law enforcement, telling the officer he can't detonate himself in exchange for 72 virgins since he is a police officer, and taking him to a strip club in a deliberate attempt to embarrass him.
The officer claims since he filed the complaint, he has been the focus of retaliation. He claimed colleagues suddenly found problems with his performance and accused him of not being able to take a joke.
According to the San Francisco Police Department, it learned of the allegations in November and immediately began an investigation into them.
Currently, there are three ongoing investigations into the incidents being conducted by both SFPD and the city's human resources department.
The department said that within the last three years, it has implemented a number of measures that ensure that all members of the public and the department are treated with dignity and respect.
"The department has instituted implicit bias and procedural justice training for all sworn and civilian members; implemented best practices recommendations from the U.S. Department of Justice; instituted electronic audits of communications; entered into agreements with academic partners to analyze vehicle stops and the use of force; and launched the Not-On-My-Watch campaign to promote improved relations between officers and the public," SFPD said in a statement.
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