Ad promotes SFPD diversity in wake of racist texts scandal

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) -- The San Francisco Police Officers Association on Tuesday released an ad produced weeks ago when word began to spread about a series of racist and homophobic cell phone texts sent between officers.

The ad features African-American, Asian and Latino officers and aims to highlight the diversity of the department as it comes under scrutiny for racial bias.

The scandal has prompted the reassignment of four officers away from interacting with the public. San Francisco Police Officers Association President Martin Halloran told KTVU seven to ten others are under investigation.

"To me it appears that they're not as serious because those officers have not been removed from public contact, they have not been transferred," said Halloran. "So that leads me to believe that the messaging that they have done certainly doesn't rise to the level of the initial four officers."

The District Attorney and Public Defender are set to examine 10 years worth of cases for evidence of racial bias. Public Defender Jeff Adachi said his office has identified about 120 cases in the last two and a half years involving two of the reassigned officers.

"We estimate there will be as many as a thousand cases that will have to be reviewed," said Adachi.

"We're calling for all officers to receive 24 hours of training in implicit bias that includes stops that occur, field investigations and arrests so that they can be trained properly," said Deputy Public Defender Christopher Hite.

Officers For Justice -- the Bayview neighborhood-based police group that largely represents African-American cops -- told KTVU the racist texts have hurt efforts to recruit women and people of color.

"It's a big blow," said OFJ vice-president Valerie Matthews. "We've had a lot of people contact us who are concerned about coming to San Francisco."

OFJ is calling for healing and is proposing a series of seminars between command staff and rank and file to have an honest dialogue about race in the department.

OFJ President Yulanda Williams was the target of one of the racist texts. She said the messages have sown mistrust in the ranks. She spoke yesterday to a cop who said she's unsure who to trust at her station.

"She stated it was very difficult yesterday for her to decide to come to work and then once she was at work, she was not at ease," said Williams. "She felt like she was at a hostile work environment because she didn't really know who was on her side and who maybe worked with her that might really have some deep-seated hate because of the color of her skin."

The public defender's office also called for annual reviews to determine whether field training officers are passing along biases to other officers and to determine whether complaints regarding biases exhibited by field training officers have been made and if they were adequately addressed.

The plan also calls for the Police Department to make every effort to assign positions in black and brown communities to those officers who live in the communities they are patrolling.

San Francisco Supervisor London Breed said that she too hopes the city will work harder to bring San Francisco youth into the police department so they can serve the communities in which they were raised.