Cops, Muni in Stress Position Over Reward Posters

Muni bus.jpg
Now with wanted posters!
After an an apparent daylong game Thursday of bad cop communication, good cop communication, the San Francisco Police Officers Association reports it's going to be able to put up posters in city buses seeking witnesses to the 2006 murder of a 17-year-old Bernal Heights boy.

"We want to make sure the POA is seen as a viable contact in the community, where we are showing more than a work effort bringing these cases to court, and that we are concerned about the family," said POA vice president Kevin Martin.

The idea was to get that message out with 800 posters to be pasted in city buses, announcing a $250,000 award for information leading to the arrest of whomever killed Mission High School student Aubrey Abraskasa in an August, 2006 hail of gunfire. Abraskasa's mother, Paulette Brown, has become a City Hall fixture since then, agitating for a more concerted effort to catch the killer. The POA took up her cause, printed up 800 reward posters, and called up Muni asking to hang them in vehicles.

POA office manager "Steve Johnson made four calls yesterday regarding this matter. He finally got a hold of an assistant who told him that if they let us do that, they'd have to do it for many other efforts. We're not trying to sell anything here. We're just trying to make the community safer," Martin said.

Word got out to the press. And by midday, "they were being inundated by calls," Martin said of Muni, adding that the transit agency relented, and that the POA would get to hang posters after all.

According to Muni spokesman Judson True, however, this wasn't so much a public relations shootout as a misunderstanding about proper procedure.

"It was a miscommunication. It's not a case of pressure coming from anywhere. It's just a case of doing things the right way," he said. It turns out that Muni has an official procedure for charitable organizations wishing to hang posters on buses.

"We can't grant every public service ad we get, but we always try to accommodate as many as we can. In this case, we had actual posters just dropped off at our office. That just isn't the process," said True, who made some phone calls after he was informed of the problem, and said the POA posters will adorn vehicles -- as long as they're official Muni size and on the proper card stock.

"It's only been a day, and I guess you know that in government that is plenty fast," he said.

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