San Francisco mayor won't fund officer-bias task force

AP News
Posted: Jun 05, 2015 2:00 PM

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee says he won't fund a request from the district attorney's office to fund a task force eyeing 3,000 arrests handled by officers accused of sending racist and anti-gay text messages.

Authorities say the arrests could have been influenced and resulted in wrongful convictions as the result of bias by 14 San Francisco police officers being investigated for the text messages.

Six officers are facing possible termination. Two have retired. Six others are facing some kind of discipline.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported ( ) Friday that in his proposed budget announced Monday, Lee declined a request by District Attorney George Gascón for $383,315 to expand the task force.

The request exceeded the amount of funds available, said Francis Tsang, a spokeswoman for the mayor.

The newspaper also said the task force is looking into hundreds of other cases that may have been affected by reports that a police crime lab technician and her supervisor violated testing standards on DNA analysis, as well as allegations that sheriff's deputies forced County Jail inmates to fight each other.

The task force includes three former judges.

Civil rights leaders and racial bias experts say Lee's decision undercuts a key pursuit of justice.

"I think they should all be reviewed to get down to the facts," the Rev. Amos Brown, president of the local NAACP branch, told the newspaper. "Those messages, they reflected the minds and thinking of police officers who were in the positions of influence. And they reflected a racist, bigoted, evil mind."

Alan Schlosser, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, said the mayor's decision undercuts what he called a strong statement of transparency from the district attorney.

Tsang pointed out that the district attorney's office already has a trial integrity unit, first funded by the mayor's office in response to a crime lab scandal in 2010.

The texts were discovered by federal authorities in a probe of former San Francisco police Sgt. Ian Furminger, who was recently convicted of corruption.

The names of the officers under investigation have not been released. The texts included slurs against blacks, Mexicans, Filipinos and gays, and feature officers and civilians repeatedly using the phrase "white power."


Information from: San Francisco Chronicle,