San Francisco's police accountability department confirms permanent executive director

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The city of San Francisco's police watchdog group, the Department of Police Accountability, has announced a permanent executive director.

Paul Henderson was confirmed earlier this week, after having served as the department's interim executive director since July of last year.

Henderson's confirmation was made possible by nominations from the San Francisco Police Commission, an appointment by Mayor Mark Farrell and unanimous approval by the Board of Supervisors last week, according to the police accountability department.

He was sworn-in by Farrell at a ceremony Monday at City Hall.

"My new position involves the prosecution of administrative disciplinary actions of police officers involved with misconduct and public complaints," Henderson said in an email Thursday.

"In addition to civilian oversight, I remain committed to the continued reforms involving a criminal justice system that is both equitable and measured for all communities," Henderson said.

The Department of Police Accountability was formerly called the Office of Citizen Complaints. In November 2016 voters approved Proposition G, introduced by Supervisor Malia Cohen, which called for the name change and expanded the department's powers, giving it the ability to audit the police department and requiring it to investigate all police shootings.

Henderson had previously served as deputy chief of staff and public safety liaison for the late Mayor Ed Lee.

Henderson also served as chief of administration under then-San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris.

Henderson has more than a decade of experience as a prosecutor and has been involved in cases ranging from misdemeanors to serious felonies, including murder, department officials said.

In a statement, Farrell said, "From his tenure at the district attorney's office to his time at the mayor's office, Paul has always earned the respect and admiration from his peers for his tireless work ethic." 

"As the head of the DPA, he is a crucial intermediary between the Police Department and the communities they represent, and I am confident he will continue to effectively provide leadership as the full-time executive director," Farrell said.