SFPD, Police Union Reach Impasse in Talks on Use of Force - NBC Bay Area
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SFPD, Police Union Reach Impasse in Talks on Use of Force

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Police reforms in San Francisco have hit a road block after months of negotiations talks break down. Jean Elle reports. (Published Friday, Oct. 21, 2016)

    The San Francisco police chief responded late Friday to the police union's statement on the impasse in negotiations between the two parties over a newly adopted use-of-force policy.

    Chief Toney Chaplin said in a statement that the impasse involves a disagreement over allowing officers to shoot at moving vehicles, which department officials think poses a threat to officers and the public.

    "21st Century policing and the DOJ (Department of Justice) recommendation clearly indicate that officers should not shoot at moving vehicles," the chief said.

    Chaplin confirmed what union officials said that four months negotiations have broken down after the police commission unanimously adopted the revised policy in June.

    San Francisco Police Officers Association President Martin Halloran said union officials have made many concessions and "agree with the commission on 99.9 percent of the new policy."

    "The major sticking point is a policy that would allow police officers to protect civilians from moving vehicle attacks like the one that recently occurred in Nice, France," Halloran said. "To protect the public, we need a policy that allows police officers to use force under exceptional circumstances like Nice."

    The policy revision was made in the wake of the December police shooting of Mario Woods in the Bayview District.

    The shooting prompted widespread controversy after bystander videos circulating on the internet appeared to show Woods, who was armed with a knife, attempting to move away from the police and not actively threatening them when he was shot.

    In the aftermath, Mayor Ed Lee and then-Police Chief Greg Suhr called for a policy revision emphasizing de-escalation tactics, saying that officers would be encouraged to create "time and distance" when dealing with armed suspects.

    The policy approved by the commission was the result of negotiations between the commission, union officials and community groups, and reflected large areas of agreement. However, union officials said at the time that they remained opposed to changes prohibiting the use of carotid chokeholds and firing at moving vehicles.

    It remains unclear what immediate effect the impasse will have. Police officials have said the bulk of the policy has already been put into effect through a department bulletin.

    Police Commission President Suzy Loftus has said in the past that a failure to reach agreement with the police union could result in legal action that would delay the implementation of the policy.

    Chaplin said no future negotiations are scheduled and department officials are evaluating what to do in the days ahead.

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