SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- A tweet by the San Francisco Police Officers Association taking aim at the city's transit agency for declaring it would not transport police officers to protests of police violence is the latest salvo in an ongoing debate over the practice.
Social media posts have highlighted instances of San Francisco Muni buses being used to transport officers in full riot gear to Black Lives Matter protests over the past week.
On Tuesday, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority held an eight-minute, 46-second work stoppage to honor George Floyd and reiterated a commitment to racial equity on the system. As part of the pronouncement, the SFMTA said it would no longer transport SFPD to anti-police brutality protests.
"So I learned that we were transporting police on social media," SFMTA Director of Transportation Jeffrey Tumlin said Wednesday.
From there, Tumlin decided that Muni will no longer transport police for one specific purpose.
"That is our job, serving other city agencies, said Tumlin. "When serving other departments gets in the way of our core mission, we have to stop and question that."
Tumlin said the decision was a difficult one.
"We were internally split," Tumlin says. "The officers of the San Francisco Police Department are our colleagues. We all get a paycheck from the same place and we want to respect them. At the same time, this situation is different. This time is different."
Wednesday morning, SFPOA responded on social media saying, "Hey Muni, lose our number next time you need officers for fare evasion enforcement or removing problem passengers from your buses and trains. Shouldn't be a @SFPD officer's job anyway. @SFPDChief should stop using us for this."
"I would like to condemn in the strongest terms this tweet ... That is dereliction of duty," said San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin. "I want to congratulate the SFMTA for that courageous stance. The Board of Supervisors has your back, and this behavior will not stand in the City and County of San Francisco."
Was the tweet a threat?
"Not a threat," says Sgt. Tracy McCray, Vice President of the SFPOA. "Just pointing out the hypocrisy of Muni saying that they wouldn't drive us, and they've never done that before."
McCray says officers will respond to Muni-related calls but do feel like they have been out of the conversation.
"We're not the roadblock," McCray says. "We want to be at the table because we want to find reasonable solutions that keep our members safe and keep the communities that they serve safe."
for more features.