Last month Police Chief Greg Suhr held a meeting in the Mission to present a draft of a new community policing general order and receive feedback from the community. Community Policing is a strategy that allows the police and the community to work together in new ways to effectively solve crimes and address issues. For years, the San Francisco Police Department pursued inconsistent community policing tactics that varied from chief to chief and community to community. The redraft will institutionalize community policing into the SFPD’s general orders, enshrining it as official department policy and setting the definition and guidelines of what community policing is.
The draft document defines community policing as “a philosophy and organizational strategy in which the police work collaboratively with community members, community-based organizations, other city agencies, and others, in order to address violent crime, create safer communities, and reserve healthy and vibrant neighborhoods…”
Components of community policing include cultivating partnerships, problem solving, shared responsibilities, mutual respect, interaction with youth, knowledge and understanding, communication, meetings, community involvement, and training. The order is general enough to allow the various precincts to adopt tactics that best fit the neighborhood they serve. From the general order, the department will draft a “best practices” manual that would change as needed.
Chief Suhr mentioned that Supervisor Campos is also working on a community policing ordinance, and his team is working with Campos’ office to converge the document.
About fifty to sixty people attended the meeting at Cesar Chavez Elementary School. Chief Suhr answered various questions regarding the policy, and several community members gave suggestions to add to the draft, such as:
- Adding to section 5 an example as to what “unplanned interactions” are with youth. (Chief Suhr mentioned impromptu basketball games between officers and youth as an example)
- Adding to section 1 that partnerships between the SFPD and communities are required to improve the relationship between the SFPD and the community.
Chief Suhr will visit each district to hear feedback regarding the Community Policing General Order draft. For those who cannot attend the community meetings, the Chief is accepting feedback and questions regarding draft via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.