BREAKING: San Francisco bans tear gas, says police will no longer respond to non-criminal calls

San Francisco Mayor London Breed (D) today announced a “roadmap for new police reforms”

These include the 4 priorities of

  • Demilitarize Police
  • End Use of Police as a Response to Non-Criminal Activity
  • Address Police Bias and Strengthen Accountability
  • Redirect Funding for Racial Equity

Per SFMayor.org

Demilitarize Police

Mayor Breed has directed San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) to establish an explicit policy barring the use of military-grade weapons against unarmed civilians. This includes, but is not limited to, chemical weapons such as tear gas, bayonets, and tanks. This plan will call on SFPD to inventory and plan how to divest the Department of any such weapons currently in their possession by the end of 2021, and to create safeguards to disconnect the SFPD from federal grants for weapons of attack used against the community. 

End Use of Police as a Response to Non-Criminal Activity

In order to limit unnecessary confrontation between the SFPD and the community, San Francisco will work to divert non-violent calls for service away from SFPD to non-law enforcement agencies. Over the next year, the City will develop a systematic response plan to improve direct connection to community-based or City service providers, such as the CAHOOTS model of crisis response or the Homeless Outreach Team or Street Medicine behavioral health professionals. This plan will also reduce the need for armed police interventions in our schools.

Address Police Bias and Strengthen Accountability

To reduce the persistence of police bias, the Mayor has directed the Department of Human Resources, Department of Police Accountability, and SFPD to identify and screen for indicators of bias, improve training systems, improve data sharing across Departments, and strengthen the SFPD’s Early Intervention System for use of force violations.

Starting immediately, the Department of Human Resources will audit all SFPD and San Francisco Sheriff hiring and promotional exams to incorporate state-of-the-art testing for bias and potential for abuse of force. Moving forward, the SFPD and Police Commission will also strengthen the affirmative duty to act policy and tie any violation to transparent disciplinary action.

The Mayor has also directed the Department of Police Accountability to expand their focus beyond individual instances of misconduct, using the Department’s chartered authority to evaluate patterns and practice of bias within the SFPD.

Redirect Funding for Racial Equity

Mayor Breed has announced that divestments from law enforcement will support intentional investment of funds in programs and organizations that serve communities that have been systematically harmed by past City policies.

Decades of disinvestment in the African-American community and racially disparate policies in San Francisco have exacerbated disproportionate harm in Black communities, affecting outcomes from health and wellness to housing insecurity and economic outcomes. On June 4, Mayor Breed and Supervisor Shamann Walton announced a plan to prioritize the redirection of resources from the San Francisco Police Department to support the African-American community in the upcoming budget. They will lead a collaborative process with the community in partnership with the Human Rights Commission to help identify and prioritize funding needs.

TheHill reports San Francisco Mayor London Breed (D) announced Thursday that the city’s police force would undergo sweeping reform, outlawing tear gas and ending police responding to non-criminal calls.

“San Francisco has made progress reforming our police department, but we know that we still have significant work to do,” Breed said in a statement. “We know that a lack of equity in our society overall leads to a lot of the problems that police are being asked to solve. We are going to keep pushing for additional reforms and continue to find ways to reinvest in communities that have historically been underserved and harmed by systemic racism.”

Breed highlighted four main objectives of the reforms: “Ending the use of police in response to non-criminal activity; addressing police bias and strengthening accountability; demilitarizing the police; and promoting economic justice.”

The mayor’s plan forces the San Francisco Police Department to get rid of now-banned weapons, including tear gas, by the end of 2021.

Additionally, the city’s police with no longer respond to calls that are non-violent in nature, with the city promising to develop a better system to deal with these kind of calls over the next year.

The SFPD will also make changes to how it hires new officers.

“Starting immediately, the Department of Human Resources will audit all SFPD and San Francisco Sheriff hiring and promotional exams to incorporate state-of-the-art testing for bias and potential for abuse of force,” Breed’s statement read. “Moving forward, the SFPD and Police Commission will also strengthen the affirmative duty to act policy and tie any violation to transparent disciplinary action.”

Cities across the country have announced sweeping and significant changes to their law enforcement following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25.

The Minneapolis City Council voted over the weekend to disband its police department and create new community public safety infrastructure.