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San Francisco Police Department touts progress adopting reforms

SFPD announces completion of yearslong reform effort
SFPD announces completion of yearslong reform effort 03:27

After some high-profile police shootings including the 2015 slaying of Mario Woods, the San Francisco Police Department on Friday said it has nearly finished adopting 272 reform objectives required by the California Department of Justice.

The reforms include everything from limiting uses of force to preventing bias in policing and hiring and involved input from both state and federal authorities dating back to 2016.

Data released by the city Friday shows a 65% drop in use of force incidents between 2016 and 2022. However, the number of police shootings is on the rise. They had dropped to a low of two during the pandemic in 2021, but rose to five shootings in 2023.

While the department has made progress in its reform efforts, some say there's still room for improvement.

For Phelicia Jones, the ceremony at San Francisco City Hall was a milestone in a journey that started years ago when she first started pushing for greater police accountability since the officer-involved shooting of Marior Woods in 2015.  

Jones is the founder of Wealth and Disparities in the Black Community, as well as the founder of the Justice for Mario Woods Coalition.

"Even though it may be a world stage in regards to the Super Bowl, it has to be a world stage in justice," she told KPIX in 2016.

Nearly a decade later, she was leading a cheer in a room full of police officers, marking what everyone agrees is a step, and not a finish line.

"It's not perfect. But we have finished," she said.

San Francisco police say they have essentially completed all 272 reforms recommended by the federal and state justice departments. Mayor London Breed, in an election year, and the chief of police described it as a milestone accomplished in spite of headwinds. 

"We not only continued to push forward with this work, and made it happen," Breed said. "We did so during a challenging time, after a global pandemic, where we saw crime start to skyrocket."

"You make the adjustments to keep the balance there," Chief Bill Scott said of the evolving reforms. "What Prop E and the voters voted for, it's achievable. But our policies still have to provide guidance for us to do things in the spirit of what this reform initiative is all about."

Jones says this was a day to mark progress in an effort that does not end for San Francisco, or any other city. 

"We're doing better than some, you know," Jones said. "So, as the mayor said, and as the chief said,, as an activist, the work continues. It's not perfect. But the work continues."

Chief Scott mentioned the Rodney King beating and the rampart scandal in Los Angeles, describing this work as a continuum on a generational scale, As for the last 27 recommendations submitted by the police, they are still awaiting final approval.

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