Police Create Committee To Suss Out Crooked Cops

Categories: Crime, Law & Order
Gascon by Shawn Calhoun.jpg
Shawn Calhoun
Chief George Gascon is angry. He wants you to be angry, too.
A retired judge and police team will begin reviewing the misconduct and criminal histories of San Francisco police officers. This is part of a new process to disclose information that may discredit cops testifying at trial.

The move, announced by Police Chief George Gascon and others at a Hall of Justice press conference Friday afternoon, comes three months after Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo chided District Attorney Kamala Harris, as her office had no general policy to disclose potential discrediting information to district attorneys, who would be mandated to turn the information over to defense lawyers. Such information is referred to as a "Brady disclosure" from the Supreme Court case Brady v. Maryland, which established rules requiring prosecutors to provide defendants information that may discredit the witnesses testifying against them.

Gascon said there may be "some people, we're not sure what that number will be" of officers who won't be able to testify due to skeletons in their closets. Still, "we feel very confident that we have vetted out our entire department and we know what needs to be known," Gascon continued. Officers will be given a chance to respond before deciding whether such information will be released to the district attorney for potential disclosure at trial. 

In other big news, police announced that the department's embattled crime lab has gotten rid of its backlog of DNA testing for homicide and sexual assaults by farming out excess cases to the Alameda County lab. "We don't have a backlog in homicides today and we will never again allow a backlog in crimes of violence," Gascon said. He reported that the crime lab is currently searching for an additional supervisor and two criminologists to ease the staffing woes.   

Other announcements today:

  • Gascon said there still is no decision on whether to prosecute crime lab tech Debbie Madden, who is accused of using some of the cocaine she was supposed to be testing -- triggering a scandal that led to thousands of drug cases being dropped.
  • The department has created an internal affairs criminal investigations unit to investigate alleged crimes committed by police, and an administrative investigations unit to investigate all misconduct allegations against police.

To wit:

"I personally am outraged. The loss of human life, regardless of the circumstances is a tragedy. But when you have a person who's not involved in any kind of criminal activity ... in a highly traveled commercial area, we get a group of thugs -- because there really no other name for them, they are thugs, with very low value on human life, decide to engage in a gun battle, resulting in three people being shot, and this lady dying is an outrage...

The community really needs to look at this and evaluate whether we should be so tolerant of this behavior ... Often for very minor incidents I'm inundated with phone calls and e-mails. I was shocked, by the fact I did not get a single e-mail with anyone being concerned about the fact this woman lost her life the way she did."

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