SAN FRANCISCO, CA – In a recent move to “stop perpetuating racial stereotypes,” the San Francisco Police Department will cease releasing the mugshots of those arrested unless “they pose a threat to the public,” according to report issued by the Associated Press.
San Francisco police will stop making public the mug shots of people who have been arrested unless they pose a threat to the public, as part of an effort to stop perpetuating racial stereotypes, the city's police chief said. https://t.co/xWV2HPddYc
— The Associated Press (@AP) July 1, 2020
San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott was said to have delivered the news on July 1st, and hopes to see other police department around the country mimic the actions taken by the department:
“This is just one small step but we hope this will be something that others might consider doing as well.”
UC Berkeley public policy professor Jack Glaser’s work on racial stereotyping was reportedly consulted by Chief Scott when reaching this decision. Glaser noted through his research that black suspects who are rested are also more likely to have their cases dropped by prosecutors:
“That may be just part and parcel of the same issue that police will stop and search Blacks at a lower threshold of suspicion in the first place and so, their arrests are more likely to be unsubstantiated.”
While it is certainly possible that a “lower threshold of suspicion” can lead to charges being dropped against alleged offenders, there’s also numerous other reasons cases are dropped.
According to Neal Davis Law Firm, cases are typically dropped from procedural mishaps, witnesses refusing to come forth and testify, fourth amendment violations, a bloated case docket, and don’t forget when people have charges dropped by exchanging criminal evidence against bigger fish on a DA’s radar.
.@SFPD says effective immediately, they will no longer release arrest photos online to end “racial stereotypes” & bias.
Berkeley Police were forced to stop releasing booking photos previously during riots because of antifa-supporting city council members. https://t.co/jPEIsQor0J
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) July 1, 2020
Yet, according to Chief Scott from the SFPD, things like mug shots floating around on the internet contribute to people believing that black Americans have a higher propensity to commit criminal acts.
The police chief, who happens to be black, offered an anecdotal experience to afford a form of substantiating this theory:
“You walk into a department store and you get followed around and the security is looking at you suspiciously. I’ve experienced that.”
But, is the existence of mug shots being available online the only thing, or even a major component to, that could possibly exist that may make some people associate black Americans with a higher likelihood of criminality? From an honest perspective, the answer is no.
There’s the imagery present within popular culture, take for instance popular music artists, that at times prominently romanticizes gang culture and the criminal acts that surround it. Not to mention, FBI crime statistics related to homicide that detail black Americans contribute to over 50% of homicides in America.
That’s the whole purpose of this new policy. To hide the facts
— Cutiepie (@Liveyourbest4) July 1, 2020
Now, while there are numerous police departments across the country that don’t release mugshots of arrestees prior to conviction in general, former NYPD officer Eugene O’Donnell thinks the SFPD is the first to cite ending mugshot publicizing specifically to avoid contributing to stereotypes.
O’Donnell, who now functions as a professor for the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, noted that the adoption of the process should really levy more support under the presumption of innocence rather than concerns over racial stereotyping:
“For a democratic society, we’re very cavalier about people’s rights and the presumption of innocence. We take people’s freedom away and ruin people’s reputations before anybody’s ever made a decision as to whether or not the person committed the offense.”
However, some feel as though that not releasing mugshots to the public could hinder possible victims that may have been affected by alleged offenders arrested.
Nina Salarno, who serves as the president of Crime Victims United of California, was one to bring up these very concerns:
“The only concern for the victims’ side of it is how are they categorizing and who is deciding which ones should be released to the public?”
Salarno’s position does bring up a compelling argument to the vested public interest in releasing mugshots of those arrested, as said releasing of that information does often help with active investigations and additional victims being located.
In San Francisco, the only exceptions will be if a crime suspect poses a threat or if officers need help locating a suspect or an at-risk person. https://t.co/owMzQtx2cK
— WOWT 6 News (@WOWT6News) July 2, 2020
According to Chief Scott, all mugshots published moving forward will first have to be approved by the SFPD’s public relations team.
Furthermore, the only instances where said mugshots will be broadcasted online and in other mediums will be specific to suspects that pose a credible threat or if police are trying to locate a suspect at-large.
Let’s not forget… this is the same department that had a problem with the thin blue line.
In May, we published an op-ed sent to us by Sgt. Tony Montoya, who is the President of the San Francisco Police Officers Association and a 26-year veteran of the San Francisco Police Department. In case you missed it… here it is:
The San Francisco Police Officers Association wore and sold SFPD rainbow uniform patches to celebrate Pride Week.
Yep. We sure did.
Why? To support our LGBTQ community, including hundreds of LGBTQ officers, and to raise funds for youth shelters that serve LGBTQ runaways.
The San Francisco Police Officers Association wore and sold SFPD pink uniform patches to raise awareness for breast cancer.
Yep. Did that too.
Why? To support the fight against a disease that kills far too many women. They are our fellow officers, mothers, grandmothers, sisters, daughters, friends, and neighbors.
The SFPOA purchased and distributed COVID-19 protective face masks to our officers that had our logo and the Thin Blue Line flag on it.
Because the police department failed to provide masks to its officers and to encourage pride amongst over 2,000 individuals who have admirably come to work every day despite COVID-19. We did it as a morale booster for each other, not as a political statement.
"The San Francisco Police Officers Association made the controversial face masks available for purchase Wednesday through a new website, labeling the coronavirus-fighting equipment the official mask of the SFPOA." https://t.co/cT4qwUhVts
— SF Examiner (@sfexaminer) May 7, 2020
Unfortunately, the anti-police fringes and criminal apologists, the extremes of our political community, decided to use these masks to stoke hatred toward police officers and to drag out their predictable garbage about police officers.
They call us racists. They call us divisive. They accuse us of being exactly who they are. Bigots. Divisive. Corrosive.
They continuously attempt to drive a wedge between police officers and the community we serve. In doing so, however, they only make our communities less safe, erode the communal value of personal responsibility, and perpetuate hate.
Although Chief Scott kowtowed to the ill-informed extremists and banned police officers from wearing our masks, they will not win.
They beg for the “other side” to get engaged and fight with them. They feed off of the conflict and terror they gin up. It’s how they raise money. It’s what they use to grab media attention. It’s what they use to organize.
We’ve received suggestions that we protest the banning of our masks by opposing other initiatives such as the rainbow patch for Pride Week.
We won’t take the bait. We will continue to support the rainbow patch because our LGBTQ community needs and deserves our support.
We will not abandon a portion of our community to make a political point. We stand up for everyone who wants to live in a safe neighborhood.
Homeless can poop in the streets of San Fransisco and steal whatever they want off the shelves at Walgreens, but God forbid cops want to wear a custom mask https://t.co/4iZuSqxZAN
— ✭ Wayne Dupree ✭ (@WayneDupreeShow) May 6, 2020
What we will not stand up for are the politicians and appointed “leaders” who either endorse this hatred towards police officers and hostility towards residents who value their personal safety, or who are too stupid to know they’re being used.
How can a seemingly educated person, say, a civil rights attorney, who is a police commissioner, continue to foam at the mouth and wildly call every police officer a racist because they wore a symbol that honors the sacrifice of other police officers?
It’s because he does not see police officers as human beings. He views us as things.
Do you know who sees human beings as things?
Well, I’m not sorry to burst their bubble by pointing out that 82% of American adults have a positive opinion of their local police officers. That’s according to a recent national public opinion poll commissioned by the United Coalition of Public Safety (UCOPS).
We appreciate the support our communities provide us. We are using that support to now sell our “banned” facemasks to raise money for the SFPOA Scholarship Fund.
This will be a year where donations to the Scholarship Fund will be generated by those who reject hate and want to support their police officers.
This is how we will prevail over the anti-police bigots.
Here’s the story Law Enforcement Today brought you originally.
San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott wrote an email to his officers which stated:
“Thin Blue Line masks shall not be worn by our on-duty members.”
The thin blue line, of course, is the police symbol representing the separation of order from chaos, as well as the sacrifice that law enforcement officers make every day.
The symbol has stood for over 30 years and was officially adopted by the National Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial as a “meaningful expression to honor fallen officers.”
As a part of following the CDC’s guidelines to remain safe as a front line worker during the COVID-19 pandemic, some officers in San Francisco were seen wearing masks over their face which were decorated with that of the thin blue line flag.
— al (@Katybugs) May 3, 2020
Specifically, last Friday, many officers responded to 4500 block of 19th Street in the Castro District, where a large group of housing rights activists who were blocking the roadway.
The activists, part of a group called Reclaim SF, along with homeless women were reportedly taking over a vacant property that they said had been empty for several years.
The purpose of their demonstration was to demand that the city provide housing to all of the homeless during the pandemic lockdown.
— House the Bay (@housethebay) May 1, 2020
Many of the officers present wore the aforementioned thin blue line flag masks, which also had a San Francisco Police Officers’ Union symbol on them.
"The money spent on cops today could have been used to house homeless people" – Couper, disabled firefighter who occupied a vacant SF property and was forcibly evicted by SFPD. https://t.co/uaJxfHLe2G #ReclaimSF #LetUsShelterInPlace #EndHomelessness pic.twitter.com/8AoCyyyGpq
— House the Bay (@housethebay) May 1, 2020
Chief Scott said:
“[The] symbolism on some of our officers’ face masks may be perceived as divisive or disrespectful.”
Scott mentioned that as soon as the department was able to offer police an alternative form of “neutral” personal protective equipment (PPE) masks, the thin blue line flag ones will be banned.
Many groups, including Black Lives Matter, have spoken out against the officers’ masks.
Michael Barba of the San Francisco Examiner reported:
“San Francisco’s police union is once again stirring up controversy, this time for giving officers face masks depicting a flag that has been taken to symbolize the Blue Lives Matter movement.
The Thin Blue Line flag became a symbol for counter protesters during the Black Lives Matter movement that emerged against police shootings in late 2014. The pro-police Blue Lives Matter movement faced criticism for missing the point of the initial cause.
When shown a video of a row of officers wearing the face masks, Supervisor Shamann Walton reserved judgment but said, “’that looks more like something you see below the Mason Dixon Line.’”
Can you actually believe this man?! Is he really n the side of the Blue?! Back the Blue Chief or touch on!!!! Officers need to know their bosses back ALL they stand for. #thinblueline #blesstheblue #irishangel https://t.co/R2viDpsK8S
— Blue Irish Angel (@BlueIrishAngel) May 3, 2020
John Crew is a retired ACLU attorney and currently a criminal justice advocate. He said it doesn’t matter what symbol or message the masks portray, because the San Francisco Police Department policy says “on-duty political activity” is not allowed.
“The definition of a uniform is that it’s uniform. There is no option to add your own statements, affiliations, whatever.
“The POA is a political organization. They can’t alter their uniforms to say ‘POA’ anymore than they can alter their uniforms to say ‘ACLU’ or ‘Donald Trump.’
It’s not just the message that it sends to the black community. It’s the message that it sends to San Francisco. The POA is still going to act like they don’t have to adhere of the policies of the department or the values of this city.
Who the heck in the command staff, anybody from sergeant and above who saw these masks, thought that this would be okay?”
Additionally, Crew stated:
“The thin blue line is a political symbol,” he noted, referring to the flag and stripe. “And it’s a POA-branded mask. It’s like wearing a political button.
It makes you wonder if it was some sort of stunt and if they were trying to provoke a controversy.”
Police Commissioner John Hamasaki sent an email to Chief Scott, saying that the masks were a “clear policy violation.” He also said:
“This raises real concerns for me about the battle for the heart and soul of the department. Are we moving forward or being dragged into the pre-reform days of SFPD?
Without oversight, it appears that some in the department are openly flouting our policies, with the endorsement of the POA. Let’s not let the bad actors drag us back into the past.”
This is what's important to Democrats?
Telling the police they can't wear a face mask with "The Thin Blue Line American Flag" on it?
They cave to Thugs who find it offensive!
San Francisco police chief nixes officers' 'Thin Blue Line' coronavirus maskshttps://t.co/4y5Z3qfT7e
— 🗽Freedom & Justice for ALL🇺🇲 (@SaveRNationUSA) May 3, 2020
SFPOA President Tony Montoya, in response to the Chief’s order, said:
“With all the real danger and challenges we face today, these folks should stop grasping at straws, because they’re banned in San Francisco. Officers are wearing masks to keep the public safe as they continue to serve our city.”
Montoya also stated that after he showed the masks to the command staff, several of them asked him if they could have one.
Montoya said that the act of having to seek out new masks is giving in to “the haters who have made a cottage industry out of carping, complaining and stereotyping the police.”
Chief Scott, after informing his officers of the ban on their thin blue line masks, said:
“As an affirmation of the principle of safety with respect for all, we will replace the personal protective equipment to which some community members have objected.
We welcome the opportunity to have a productive conversation about ways to honor first responders and others during this public health emergency.”
Randy Sutton, a medically retired Lieutenant and founder of the peer support advocacy group The Wounded Blue, said:
“Oh golly Chief, we can’t possibly support our Officers who (wear) that horrible offense Blue Line Flag design on their face masks, now can we?
The San Francisco Police Chief is yet another example spineless Police ‘leadership’ who would rather bully his cops than support them.
Almost 100 Law Enforcement Officers have (died) from this virus and the ‘Thin Blue Line Flag’ was created to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Because a bunch of radicals want to pretend it’s a ‘racist’ flag does not alter the truth but this Chief doesn’t have the guts to stand up for his cops. Pathetic.”
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