“We engaged community members, impacted families and neighborhood-serving organizations in a process that resulted in long overdue updates to the SFPD Use of Force Policy. We operationalized Life Affirming practices through a new Crisis Intervention Team General Order.”
Police, prosecutors, and judges hold incredible power — from the power of the prosecutor to take one’s liberty with the strike of a pen to the power of a peace officer to use force. Sadly, history and recent years have shown that this power is not always used in the interests of justice. As District Attorney, I am committed to using my position and the resources at my disposal to target and eradicate abuses of power and build protections for the civil liberties of all.
Holding Law Enforcement to a Higher Standard
As President of the San Francisco Police Commission, I advanced bold, comprehensive policies to bring more transparency and accountability to policing, including the adoption of a new use-of-force policy and body-worn camera policy. I oversaw the termination of more officers accused of serious misconduct than ever before. We engaged community members, impacted families and neighborhood-serving organizations in a process that resulted in long overdue updates to the SFPD Use of Force Policy. We operationalized Life Affirming practices through a new Crisis Intervention Team General Order.
We banned the use of carotid holds, required officers to submit written reports every time firearms were unholstered — creating additional accountability for a newly defined form of use of force — prohibited the practice of shooting at moving vehicles, reengineered firearm practices through expanded training qualifications, and rolled out a body-worn camera policy, with significant community input for every change. We ensured that everyone had room at the table to share their perspective. As a result, we have seen a 30% decrease in police use of force and fewer officer injuries. All of this illustrates a simple premise: we can build community-driven solutions that deliver positive outcomes for community members and law enforcement officials alike.
I was an early supporter of Assembly Bill 392, the California Act to Save Lives, which was based on reforms we achieved here in San Francisco. This is a necessary next step in restoring trust in our communities. Accountability must extend to all segments of the criminal justice system, including prosecutors. Just as we are committed to eliminating racial bias in policing and arrests, we must be equally committed to eliminating racial bias in the prosecutorial process — from charging decisions to sentencing recommendations.
Our communities are safer when we have a justice system that treats everyone fairly–regardless of who they are, what they look like, or who they work for. We don’t have to wait for another tragedy at the hands of the police to be bold in the ways we seek justice.
“Accountability must extend to all segments of the criminal justice system, including prosecutors. Just as we are committed to eliminating racial bias in policing and arrests, we must be equally committed to eliminating racial bias in the prosecutorial process — from charging decisions to sentencing recommendations.”
That’s why when it comes to police reforms, I want to see the San Francisco District Attorney’s office take it further. Statewide use of force policy reform is a good first step, but there’s more we can do to ensure that police officers are held accountable just like anyone else.
As District Attorney, I will:
- Establish independent scrutiny of officer-involved shootings by inviting the California Department of Justice to lead and conduct investigations of these critical incidents
- The Independent Investigations Bureau (IIB) will serve as the special prosecution unit to coordinate with independent investigators and make charging decisions regarding allegations of police misconduct. IIB will also specially handle all charges against police officers committed in their personal capacity.
- Publish the findings of officer-involved shooting investigations, increasing transparency to a historically opaque and bureaucratic process.
Eradicate Bias in our Criminal Justice System
We must face that bias affects everyone — sometimes it is explicit, but it is also often implicit. Our current criminal justice system is deeply tainted by racially disparate outcomes. In San Francisco, African Americans are 5% of our population, but compose 53% of our jail population. Women, especiallywomen of color and LGBTQIA women, are the fastest growing population in jails. Latinx and African American individuals are more likely to be booked on serious charges with an increased likelihood that charges may be refiled.
As District Attorney, I will:
- Establish a first-of-its-kind Civil Rights Unit, charged with instituting solutions to eliminate disparities in our criminal justice system that affect individuals of all racial and gender identities, sexual orientations, religious affiliations, and physical abilities, starting with the current practices of the District Attorney’s Office.
- Conduct a complete audit of SFDA practices and outcomes, led by experts in the field, to understand where existing policies and practices are increasing or decreasing racial disparities.
- Collect and analyze data on charging decisions, use of prosecutorial discretion, conviction integrity, and other key decision points to understand where disparities are being exacerbated.
- Pilot best and emerging practices to eliminate bias, including training all DA staff to identify how bias is compounded in each stage of the justice process, continue exploring the use of emerging technologies to enable color-blind charging and working with other law enforcement agencies to reduce racial disparities in arrests and monitored supervision.
- Establish new policies around charging decisions, plea offers, sentencing recommendations and other practices to combat racial disparities.
- Require implicit bias, procedural justice, and racial equity training for all SFDA employees.
My record and plans for a more safe and just San Francisco have earned me the support of criminal justice activists like Sunny Schwartz:
“As a lifelong activist, I know leadership is critical and Suzy Loftus has been right there with us every time the community demanded more accountability from our law enforcement leaders and to do better. I trust and know Suzy will give us a seat at the table so we can work collaboratively to champion prevention and intervention responsive initiatives that address the root causes of crime so to interrupt the painful cycle crime and incarceration. While serving as the President of the San Francisco Police Commission, Suzy met with and heard the cries and anger from the families and activists during hours of public testimony. Suzy took to heart the stories of the hurt and mistrust. Suzy successfully championed meaningful reforms that have resulted in a significant reduction in police use of force. That’s Suzy Loftus, that’s critical leadership and that’s what we need in our beloved San Francisco.”
— Sunny Schwartz, Criminal Justice Reform Activist