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tv   Government Access Programming  SFGTV  March 7, 2019 6:00pm-7:01pm PST

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>> chairman: the meeting will come to order. welcome to the thursday march 711th meeting of the government audit and oversight. i'm supervisor gordon mar, and i'm joined by supervisor walton, to fill in for supervisor paskin. thank you to the erica major, filling in for john carroll carol. and i would like to thank samuel and corwin at for staffing this meeting. do we have a motion to
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excuse supervisor peskin? >> thank you. ms. clerk, do you have any announcements. >> yes, please make sure to silence all cell phones and electronic devices, and speaker cards and copies of any documents as part of the file should be submitted to the clerk. items acted upon today will appear on the march 19th board of supervisors agenda unless otherwise stated. >> chairman: thank you, misclerk. miss clerk. i want to announce we're going to be taking some of the items out of order to accommodate supervisor brown's schedule and other considerations. please call items four to 10 foreclosed session. >> items four through 10 are various ordinances organizing lawsuits against the city and county of san francisco. >> chairman: are there any members of the public who wish to testify on the items that will be heard
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enclosed session? seeing none, public testimony is now closed. do we have a motion to convene enclosed session? we are now enclosed session. >> we're now back in open session for government audit and oversight. during the closed session deliberations, the d.a. o. committee took the following actions, recommending items four through six, and eight through 10. and item number seven, recommended as a committee report. >> chairman: do i have a motion to -- not to disclose the proceedings
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from the closed session? thank you. so we're going to call some of the items out of order in recognition of a lot of people from the community who have turned out here for agenda item number three at this time. so we're going to go to agenda item three. ms. clerk, please call item number three. >> it is an hearing to inquire why the sheriff's department as a law enforcement agency lacks a law enforcement policy in regards to mistreating inmates. >> chairman: i would like to pass it off to supervisor walton, who called for this meeting. >> thank you, chair mar. first of all, i just want to say thank you to everyone who showed up for this important hearing. hearing this morning. i want to thank the public, of course the sheriff's department, the public defender's office, the district district attorney's
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office, and the department of police accountability. let me just start off with a few comments. first i want to tell you what this hearing is not. this hearing is not an attack on the sheriff personally. this hearing is not an attack on sheriff deputies. so i weren't to be clear about that. it is also not about deciding guilt or innocence without due process. what this hearing is about is ensuring that investigations deputies and members of the sheriff's department accused of misconduct are independent, free from bias, adequate, and thorough. this is also about who makes the decision when accusations are proven to be valid. so let's talk a little bit boabout how we got here. immediately following ni election to the board of supervisors last november, i received an article in the san francisco bay view that discussions allegations of mistreatment and misconduct of sheriff's
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deputies, and i had also spoken with our public defender prior to receiving this, about some of the things that he's heard from some of his clients previously. and we had actually had this conversation for a couple of years, just about different things we would hear, and in the community, things he would hear on his cases. as you know, our late, great, public defender was definitely a strong advocate to make sure that clients weren't mistreated, regardless of what they were accused of. and so we started to have conversations and look at individual cases and look at some of the documented incidences of allegations against sheriff's deputies in terp terms of mistreatment in the jails. a couple of facts. in 2009, an inmate died in one of our county jails, and the san francisco medical examiner ruled it a homicide at the hands of
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sheriff's deputies. this is according to december 24th, 2010, and there is also other documentation to note. the last fact i will cite is on friday, february 1st, 2019, the san francisco district attorney's office dismissed charges on deputies accused of participating in and condoning and forcing fighting of inmates in our jails. the stated reason charges were dismissed is because it is believed that the sheriff's department destroyed evidence. i'm not creating this narrative. this is, in fact, factually documented truth that we know. this is not supervisor gone rogue. these are things that have actually been documented and found to be true. so there is no guaranteed transparency because of the personnel-related manner of allegations of misconduct, and because the sheriff's department has no oversight that ensures that these investigations are conducted in an unbias and
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proper manner. whether intentional or not. the police department is subject to accountability with a commission, why is the sheriff's department any different? the elected leader of law enforcement bodies should not have the 100% authority to determine the consequenses, if any, of proven misconduct on behalf of deputies. nor should the elected leader conduct its own investigations because it is impossible, virtually, for independent, unbias investigation, if that just be on the elected leader of a law enforcement entity. that is why we do not allow the fox to be in the hen house. you don't forfeit your humanity because you are incarcerated. you do not forfeit your humanity because you are incarcerated. rehabilitation, restorative justice, these terms exist because we know people can change and should be allowed to pay their debt to society
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without fear of retribution during incarceration. we know that there are allegations of misconduct. we know that there are investigations. we know that these investigations are conducted by the sheriff's department. that can no longer happen. so this hearing is therefore necessary to address these issues and concerns. we brought in the public defender's office to discuss some of the allegations of misconduct in justice so we know why we're here. we brought in the sheriff's department so we can learn how they conduct investigations and learn how to help them do better, and what the independent body should look like as we move forward. we brought in the district attorney's office to let us know how they have investigated allegations of sheriff's misconduct, and how they came to conclusions of whether or not to prostitut prosecute basen
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information. and we brought in the department of accountability to see how they conduct their allegations for the san francisco police department, to see if this would probabl possibly be the appropriate body to conduct independent investigations in the future. one thing i will say, as we hear from our reports here today, one thing that is also problematic is no matter who conducts the investigations, how thorough, and how vetted they are, and when the recommendations come, we have to have a body that is independent of the sheriff's department that also imposes what the punishment may be if we find misconduct, allegations of misconduct are valid. so with that said, again, i want to thank everyone for being here. i think this is an important hearing for us to have. and thank you all for showing up. with that said, we are going to bring up the
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representative from the public defender's office. i believe shasha boudine will be reporting on behalf of the public defender's office. and everyone who comes up to report from the four bodies we brought in, remember we have about five to seven minutes for our report. so thank you so much. >> good morning, supervisors. jeff adochi wanted to be here today to present on behalf of his office and his clients. so i want to acknowledge the void that his passing leaves on issues like the one before you today for the board, for our office, and for the entire city. i also want to thank sheriff hennessey for recognizing the need for independent investigation into these serious allegations. it is critical to the successful completion of this process and future investigations that the sheriff set the tone for compliance with
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departmental policy and respect for the law. here we all have a shared commitment to public safety, respect for the law, and honoring the public trust in our offices. regardless of who handles the investigation, it will be up to the sheriff to take appropriate administrative action in response. i would also like to thank supervisor walton and other members of the board, marv brown for being here today, and for making this issue a priority. the integrity of the criminal justice system depends on transparencies and the equal enforcement of the law. i'll divide my comment into two main parts today. first, the current investigation into the abuses at the jail. second, the process for handling such grievances in the future. as you are aware, more than 20 inmates came forward recently after being physically abused by
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sheriff's department staff while incarcerated. another separate group of female inmates came forward after being strip-searched in the presence of male deputies. of course, the people most affected by this misconduct can't be here today because they are incarcerated. but there are many members of the community who i know will share those men and women's stories with you during public comment. the men and women who filed those complaints are represented not just by the public defender, but also by conflict counsel, by private counsel, and some of them even represent themselves. like the major of people in san francisco county jail, the men and women who filed these grievances are, for the most part, resumed innocent and still awaiting trial on the charges that resulted in their incarceration. when those who are sworn to serve and protect us violate the law by ganging up to physically assault
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people in handcuffs and restraints, they commit crimes themselves, and they undermine public trust. when they are allowed to violate the law with impunity, when those who enforce the law are treated as if they are above it, the rule of law becomes meaningless. this is one of many ways our system of mass incarceration makes franchise less safe. it is one of the main reasons why i and so many others have fought so hard against building a new jail. through the investigation into the allegations, though it is ongoing, it is clear that there is a serious problem with sheriff's staff failing so follow the law and failing to respect their own internal policy. it is clear there is a lack of public confidence in the sheriff's department's ability to handle internal investigations and discipline. the fox guarding the hen house, as supervisor walton put it. now, back in 2015, the
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sheriff's department considered a significant overhaul to the internal use of force policy. that overhaul would have set a higher standard thunder the minimum legal requirements under the law. the proposal would have defined terms that today under the existing policy are not even defined. terms such as "reasonable" or "excessive" force. and it would have required regular deescalation training for all sheriff's department staff. unfortunately, those proposed policies were never put into effect, and so we find ourselves here today. more than three months have passed since these complaints at issue were filed. they were first brought to the attention of the sheriff and her department around thanksgiving of last year. what that means is that under government code section 3304, there is barely nine months left to complete the investigation and impose any administrative sanction on those found culpable. it is highly problematic
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to restart an investigation at this stage and to have the department of police accountability or any other agency take over mid-stream. d.p.a. does not have additional resources to carry out this investigation. d.p.a. has no mandate to make recommendations for discipline to sheriff's staff. and d.p.a. has no ability to compel interviews within the sheriff's department. finally, d.p.a. has no substantial experience doing investigations into sheriff's staff or under tosheriff's department policy. it is equal problematic to determine the investigative process ad hock, in mi midstream, without transparencies. how many staff are being investigated currently. are the investigations criminal, civil, or both. or are they being separated during this investigation? has evidence been destroyed or contaminated?
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there are more unanswered questions than my time before you today allows me to even ask. justice and the rule of law require that the complaints at issue today be investigated timely, independently, transparently, and thoroughly. the results of that investigation must be made public to the extent allowable by law. if someone violated the law, even sworn sheriff's staff, they must be held accountable. now, as to the broader, longer term questions about how future grievances against sheriff's staff should be handled, first, we need to prevent this abuse from occurring in the first place. as a place to start, i urge the sheriff to revisit the proposed changes to the use of force policy that were introduced back at the end of 2015. second, we need a commitment that moving forward every complaint made against the sheriff's
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department and its staff will be investigated by an independent authority. it is common sense that the rule must prohibit self-investigation. to understand why, consider a proposal to allow clients of the public defender's office to be investigated by their families or friends. the same rule should be applied here. third, we need consistency and reliability in investigating these incidents, and i don't mean a process that changes consistently. people making accusations, along with those accused, have a right to be able to rely on a set process in order to know that they are being treated fairly. this is an area where victims' rights and those of the accused, require the same due process. fourth, d.p.a. does not have the resources and mandate to take on all grievances filed against sheriff's staff. while there are an unsettling number of grievances file that appear to have merit,
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there are of course, and will continue to be, some frivolous grif vance grievancess well. it needs additional staff, budget, and a legal mandate to compel cooperation from sworn and civilian staff in the jails. and whichever agency does take the lead, these independent investigations must have some authority to act on the outcome. recent history clearly demonstrates why meaningful, independent investigation is critical, and why we need assurances now as to the integrity of this investigation. as you are well aware, last month the district district attorney's had to dismiss fight clubs because of contaminated evidence and botched internal investigation. this is unacceptable, and it cannot be allowed to occur in these cases. those who enforce the law are not above it. we have allegations of
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widespread physical abuse, along with degrading strip searches of women, and up to a dozen deputies or more are implicated. and we have no information about what investigation has occurred or who has been held accountability. liability, transparencies, sufficient resources, true independence, these are the fundamental principles of justice. they must be extended here where trust in law enforcement, the rights of the accused, and the safety of our fellow san franciscans, those condemned to the jail and those who simply work there, are uniquely susceptible to damage interrogation. i'm happy to take any questions at this time or at the conclusion of other comments. thank you. >> chairman: thank you, mr. boudine. threatlet's show that this was nine minutes. colleagues, do you have any questions for
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mr. boudine? >> so, i just have a question. just because -- i mean, these complaints that have come forward, i mean, there has been years that this has happened. as a legislative aide for 10 years in this city, i can't tell you how many families have come to our offices complaining about the same sort of thing, mistreatment in the jails. and treatment of humiliation, just as of the incident you talked about of women being strip-searched with men there, the male sheriffs. and every time, you know, we've given that information to the sherif sheriff -- but we never know what happens to it. the families have said that -- would come back and say there is nothing
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happening. so for us as supervisors, it was really frustrating because it was a dead end. we would make the complaint, and it was a dead end. and so as the p.d., did you feel when you were -- i know your clients came to you and probably complained, also, if they were being mistreated. so was your -- it sounds like your experience was the same? >> that's correct. in fact, in this instance, i personally represented four of the men who came forward to complain of physical abuse. the process on our end looks very similar to what you described, supervisor brown. we can reach out to sheriff's legal counsel, mark nicos, and out to the legal services, nick gratas and others, and we can file a grievance on behalf of our clients or assist them and filing a grievance, and that's generally the last we hear of it. in this case, i did hear personally from the
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sheriff herself, and i know she is aware of the issues and takes them very seriously. that provides some reassurance, that her personal attention has been focused on his issue as early as late november. however, we don't have any way to know what has happened as a result of her attention to the issues. >> okay. because for us, and for me, anyway, i would contact the families again and say, what's happening? has it improved? is there any movement? and that was something i felt, you know, because the sheriff is an elected position, that it was really, you know, the buck stops with that position. and so it made it hard to really follow up and find out what was actually happening unless you talked to the families. i wanted to know if your experience was the same? >> we had the same experience. the best we can learn is an individual client has been moved from san bruno up to 850 bryant, and that hopefully provides them
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some protection from the kind of abuse they suffered or from retaliation by the same deputies that assaulted them. that's really the most we can learn from these processes. >> do you think they were moving them because of the complaint? they would just move them around so they wouldn't have to be around the same deputies they were complaining about? >> certainly in some instances, it was at our request or at the individual's request. >> okay. >> so i know for example at least one client that i represented at the time, specifically begged not to be sent back to san bruno after a court date. >> because they were scared? >> correct. and i know that the sheriff was very responsive and made sure he did not go back to san bruno. we were very appreciative to that quick and timely response to his immediate fears. we don't have any information about what followup was taken to discipline or investigate staff for physically assaulting that man. >> was he safe at 850 bryant? how did that work out?
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>> that individual i'm referring to was safe at 850 bryant, yes. i know there have been other complaints, and i expect during public comment, you will hear from folks who have grievances related to conduct at county jails one, two, and four that appear in san francisco proper. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> chairman: supervisor walton, i just had one question. thank you, so much, mr. boudine, for sharing all of the information and your perspectives on these important and serious issues. >> in your testimony, you sort of raised some questions about the department of police accountability's capacity to really handle the volume of complaints around the sheriff's department misconduct, and whether they have the resources -- the adequate resources to do that, and also the experience that these types of cases need. but in today's examiner, you were quoted as sort of questioning whether they have the power to compel
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statements from witnesses in the same way that they do from the police department employees. and i was wondering if you could explain that a little bit. >> my concern is, to illustrate by example, if the department of police accountability steps in to conduct an investigation in a situation like this, and wants to speak with civilian witnesses who work in the jail and sworn staff who work within the jail who may be witnesses or may be themselves under investigation, what authority do they have to require those staff members under the sheriff's department to actually provide statements or cooperate? we know they have that authority with regard to the police. it would be essential to clarify they have that same authority with regard to sheriff's staff. as we saw with the fight club case, it would be essential to make sure that any administrative investigation conducted by d.p.a. is entirely separate or fire-walled
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off from a par parallel criminal investigation. there are other questions about jurisdiction, and this is one of the challenges of having a county jail located outside of san francisco raises. if there was a crime committed, which district attorney's office is charged with prosecuting that crime, san mateo or san francisco? similar issues would arise if san francisco were to send its inmates to county jails outside of san francisco or san mateo. so i think the concern is, what if a staff member simply says, no, i'm not going to cooperate. what happens then? what recourse is there? perhaps the sheriff is prepared to order all of her staff to comply, and that might alleviate some of those concerns. but, again, we need to have a clear process set out in advance. it is unacceptable both for those accused and those who have made the accusations to have an ad hock process invented
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mid-stream. we need no know to protect due process, exactly what that process is in in advance. >> thank you so much. >> thank you all. >> one more question, mr. boudine, in the many cases that you get of alleged misconduct, when and if there is a consequence or prosecution, etc., you almost entirely don't get information of what that consequences is or what has happened in these cases, even if misconduct is proven? >> that's correct. the only time we would learn about it would be if there were publicly filed criminal charges in court. if someone were disciplined within the sheriff's department, suspended, reassigned, retrained, fired, even, it would be virtually impossible for us to know what happened, why it happened, what the circumstances of that discipline were. >> thank you. >> thank you very much. >> and now -- and i just
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want to -- before we call up sheriff hennessey, i just want to reiterate what this is not about because i don't think the sheriff's department was in the room when i first started my statements. saying that this is not an attack on the sheriff or sheriff's deputies, but it is about the fact that we do have allegations of misconduct, allegations of misconduct are investigated, and they are currently investigated by the sheriff's department. that can no longer happen. so i just want to be clear what this is not about. with that said, i want to thank sheriff hennessey for being here this morning. and i believe she is going to come up and present for us. and, sheriff, we original set five to seven minutes, but i did allow nine minutes. so we will make sure you have the same amount of time. >> i will speak fast. okay. thank you very much. thank you supervisors walton, supervisor mar, and supervisor vallie
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brown. thank you. thank you for inviting me to participate in this hearing today. first of all, i'm honored to be your sheriff. i've spent meye my career as peace officer, serving the people of san francisco since 1975, and working to professionalize the department. i view this and future collaborations as a way to continue this process. as your sheriff, i have participated in numerous initiatives over the past three years. i have worked with city agencies collaboratively on many aspects, such as immigration, upholding our sanctuary city policy, financial justice to abolish criminal justice, fees and policies, bail reform, implementing t.g. n. training, and supporting and fighting for increased funding for their pre-trial division to get more people out of jail more quickly. i understand that being in jail can be traumatic. i have dedicated a significant part of my resources to making it
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less traumatic, all the while coping with failing infrastructure and serious understaffing. the direct result of a four-year hiring freeze from 2012 to 2016. our department is just catching up. i know the people in our jails are also among the most vulnerable people we have. i know that many inmates suffer from mental health conditions and substance abuse diseases. and like some of you in this room today, my family is also touched by isn't of these conditions. i also know that some of the people remaining in our jails are charged with serious or violent felonies. my job as sheriff is to keep everyone safe. and when they're not safe, i take it personally. we need to keep them safe from each other, safe from any excessive or unnecessary use of force, safe from the drugs or weapons that are smuggled into our jails. and i want to make sure that the people who work under me understand the
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expectations, are trained to those expectations, and are held accountable. to this end, we do deescalation training. this year was a difficult year. we need -- we require budgetary resources to provide quality training and education to staff to prevent things that happen that shouldn't happen. part of meeting expectations is conducting safe cell searches for contraband, illegal drugs and weapons. these searches are routinely performed to reduce injury to inmates, staff, and visitors, and to stop the illegal flow of drugs. last week at our women's jail, we experienced a fentanyl overdose, drugs that were smuggled in. our deputies' quick actions prevented a fatality. on december 3rd, 2018, i received several calls
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from the late public defender jeff adochi, and also surrounding misconduct. hearing the allegations made me feel angry, extremely concerned, but also determined to get to the truth. it is necessary for me as sheriff to keep an open mind and wait for the results of the investigations, ensuring due process for the victims, the complainants, and the accused. i cannot pre-judge. i need to follow the facts. i immediately opened an internal investigation and asked jeff to forward me any information he had. he did so, as did chafa. and my internal affairs unit started investigation of the location of the complaint the next few days, and adding othered to the complaint has they talked and found there were others who came forward. they also spent the last three months gathering all of the relevant documents, the video evidence, and talking to witnesses. i was out of the office during the month of
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january on a medical leave. when i returned, i became concerned about the pace of the investigations and realized others were also concerned. i spoke with supervisor walton, and i contacted the department of police aaccountability and toured the offices. the sheriff's department and internal affairs unit has nine staff with no other administrative support. i was impressed with d.p.a.'s operation. i felt confident that d.p.a. was the right fit to provide professional independent investigations. this week i began turning over the december 3rd assets to the department of police accountability. at the conclusion of the investigation, d.p.a. will provide me a report, including findings and policy and training recommendations. if d.p.a. finds that any of the allegations rise to the level of criminal conduct, d.p.a. will turn that investigation over to the appropriate law
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enforcement agency for the jurisdiction. i heard talk about what happens if it is in san bruno, and i have a case in san bruno that my staff discovered that is a criminal case against a deputy that has been filed in san mateo county. the first step in our conversation and collaboration today towards having all inmate and public complaints about staff investigated by an independent agency, and this is a process that will need refinement, conversation, and it is going to take some time to put together and transition. where there is misconduct, we will route it out and hold those deputies accountable. when deputies are doing the right thing and serving their community well, we will lift them up and praise their service. i have known many people on both sides of justice for more than for decades. i look forward to continuing the conversation and assuring that community and inmates' complaints receive fair and just
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investigations. i offer to anybody in this room, or anybody who is listening to this, if you would like an appointment with me or to talk to me, you can call my office. i'm open to the public. that's something i actually like to do. and i would be proud to hear from you. now, jeff had mentioned they had not heard anything from the sheriff's department. on january 31st i sent a letter to jeff about the course of the investigation. and i have a copy and you have a copy there. i won't go into it. but i will say that at that time i told them what i could tell them. and i will also tell you, supervisors, that we moved many of the deputies and replacer dome the replaced many of the supervisors at that location when those charges were brought. and i ask you to remember all of these charges are still allegations. we can't talk about -- i can't talk about the charges at this point. i'm not allowed to talk about the charges at this point. these are allegations, and
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we have to see where the facts take us. i also want to let you know i did check with the city attorney, and the sheriff does have the authority to direct the investigations and direct who will do the investigations. and i also have the authority to order my staff to comply with the investigations. so that's not an issue that i see. i also am a little concerned that on one hand i'm hearing that i'm moving too fast, and on the other hand, i'm hearing, wait, these investigations really need to get done within the year allotted them. i believe this is the best way to get these investigations done, with integrity, with somebody who is an independent investigator, who knows what they're doing, and i believe they will have no problem, but i believe you should probably talk to paul henderson about their ability to actually take on these cases and do it. i'm just looking at my notes from what other people said so i have it.
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the use of force policy was brought up here. yes, the use of force policy is an issue, perhaps, but, as i said, we are already doing c.i.t. training when we have the funds to do it, but we do regular deescalation along with our other training on a regular basis. i will say that that is something that i feel very confident about and very strongly. i have even gone to watch them do that training because i want to make sure they're doing the proper deescalation. i think i'll wait for your questions, then. thank you. >> chairman: thank you, sheriff hennessey. i appreciate you coming out and reporting today. questions from any of my colleagues? supervisor brown? >> thank you, sheriff hennessey. and, believe me, i think we all really appreciate your openness. and it's true, any time we call, you pick up, or our
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staff calls, you pick up, you answer our questions. and the department has amazing programs, and it is very progressive, and we really appreciate you leading that. i guess the question i have is once they allegations came up, why didn't you turn it over to district attorney? >> because it wasn't clear there were criminal allegations, and until it is clear they are criminal allegations, there was no need for a criminal investigation. >> okay. >> and if that does come out in the course of the investigation, once the evidence is there, they will be turned over to law enforcement. and in san francisco, that would most likely be the district attorney. if it is from anything that arrow arose in san bruno,
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it would be the county. >> chairman: thank you, supervisor. sheriff hennessey, i would like supervisor brown's comments appreciating all of the work that you and the sheriff's department's staff have been doing on so many fronts. the focus today is on the allegations of abuse on the male inmates at the end of last year, and the inappropriate strip search of the female inmates or the allegations of that, and how to best handle those complaints. so i really think it was a good step to take to turn those over to the department of police accountability, to take over the investigation. i just wanted to ask if you could just describe what the scope of similar types of complaints are that might have come up in the last year or two within the sheriff's department around misconduct, and whether you feel like the internal
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investigations -- that protocol that you guys have had have been an affective way to investigate this. >> i think it's important we have community investigations and the inmate investigations in. there are a number of types of complaints. i wasn't prepared to talk about those, but we certainly have some unnecessary use of force complaints, we have some complaints about not getting their medication. i mean, we have all different kinds of of complaints that happen, if you can imagine within a jail that generally holds about 1300 people. and i do have a list, though, of all of the complaints and everything that we've had in terms of numbers, raw numbers. and i can share that. and i did give that to you in your packet, i think. overhead. >> lights on, please.
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>> so let me make sure i have another copy. so this is kind of an overview of the last three years of internal affairs case summary for the sworn members of the san francisco sheriff's department. and you can see that we've had a total of 62 cases, investigations, in 2016, and a total of 58 in 2017, and supervisor walton, this answers many of the questions you asked me. we have 119, and that is because of the spike in the 21 investigations that we got this year. this is genuinely a unique occurrence for something of this magnitude to have taken place. and we also have 19 whistle-blowers. our whistle-blower complaints are up quite a bit, and we're also teaching our staff to do whistle-blower complaints and e.e.o. complaints. so we're finding that that is paying off in benefits as well. so you can see what is sustained here. there is 19 cases
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sustained in 2016. 15 in 2017, and 16 in 2018. this is actually much higher than the national average, but i'm just saying that. and you can see down at the bottom what kind of discipline was given. we have reprimands, suspensions, determinations, corrective action, and some are resignations and retirement. supervisor walton, you specifically asked me how many cases are still left open, and we have three left open from 2017. when it says "told," that means they are -- likely two of them are criminal investigations that we're waiting for response to, and another is another investigation where somebody is off work and we have to wait until they come back to work. if you look over at the right-hand side at 2018, we have 52 completed, and of those 52 completed, 16 cases have been sustained. in addition to that, we have a number of cases
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down here where we have one reprimand, two suspensions, two terminations, and we also have cases that are pending legal review. and we get cases from investigations -- first of all, i don't have anything to do with the investigations until they get back to my office and we take a look at them and then we forward them to legal review with a recommendation, and then the legal review takes a look at it. and then we do a scully hearing. a scully hearing is a disciplinary hearing, giving due process to the people who are accused. and we have seven people now that are noticed and that we're waiting for, and seven cases that have been sustained that are pending legal review. so these are the cases that we have. did that answer your question a little bit? >> yes. thank you. >> okay. >> chairman: thank you so much again, sheriff hennessey. go hey, supervisor brown. >>
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[inaudible] >> so the d.p.a., they investigate, right? and some of these charges are criminal, the allegations. so i assume -- i mean, how does the d.p.a. work with the d.a. because it seems like the d.a. should be taking the criminal investigations and moving them forward. and how does that -- using both of those, does that have a potential outcome, what is the potential outcome? >> i think paul henderson can probably answer that question better than i can, but what i can tell you from my point of view is that the allegations -- until you -- the d.a. is not going to be able to charge any allegations until there is a preliminary investigation anyway that shows what happened. they're going to need
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the -- they're going to need the evidence. and the evidence is in what is being gathered. and that is also the video evidence. >> so are we -- is paul coming up? >> chairman: he is one of the people. >> thank you. >> you're welcome. >> chairman: thank you. thanks again, sheriff hennessey. >> i do have a few questions. so you talked a little bit about the initial investigation, and how it doesn't come to you at first. so the people involved at the initial investigation, who do they work for? >> they work for lieutenant sue ellen, who is here, by the way. >> they work for the sheriff's department? >> yes. everybody works for the sheriff's department. >> and the people who do legal review, who do they work for? >> they work for me. >> what about p.d.a.? >> they're an independent organization. >> so out of that structure, the only independent organization
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is p.d.a. let me ask you -- this is subject to your own opinion, but do you think it is problematic for law enforcement to conduct their own investigations of misconduct? >> i think that it is no longer a model that the public will support. and i think what the public wants is an important, as an elected official, obviously. and while the other investigators from my department have done outstanding work with limited resources, i think policies that build community trust and inmate investigations will ensure public accountability and trust. i like the fact -- i'll be honest, i like the fact that d.p.a. has a robust organization and puts out regular reports. that's something that i wanted to do and i can never get to because i didn't have the resources. i think that will be excellent. >> and how do you respond to a claim, like when the
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d.a.'s office states they can't prosecute deputy sheriffs because the sheriff's department destroyed evidence? >> number one, it is not clear any evidence was ever destroyed. this is a claim made by the defense, not by us and not corroborated by the sheriff's department. this is something -- this is something that kind of got legs in the press and took off, and i would say that this is something that the defense attorney said. and i am in the process of determining the status of the hard drive. i'm still looking for it because i don't believe it was destroyed. i believe that that's an allegation that is not correct. and i'm looking forward to continuing to work with the district attorney and keep them informed, and if the investigation goes well, then the case will be refiled. >> so you are saying that the d.a.'s office didn't say that evidence was destroyed by the sheriff's department? >> no. i'm saying that the
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defendant said that. >> and so did the d.a.'s office? >> the d.a.'s office said they couldn't proceed because they believe that it was. i believe christine de barry is here today, and i think she can answer that question better than i can. but i would say there is some misunderstanding about whether or not that -- whether or not the evidence was destroyed. >> it was reported that the d.a. said they couldn't prosecute because evidence was destroyed. >> right. i know how it was reported. >> it didn't say it was because the defense said that. >> it was in the defense motion. i will say that i can't speak for the d.a. i just believe that that was not accurately reported. >> and you showed a table that showed a spike in allegations for last year. >> yes. >> and so in your honest opinion, do you think that the sheriff's department even has the capacity, or you as the sheriff, as the head of the body, should be making those decisions
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and conducting those investigations? particularly with the increases. >> now, are you talking about the citizen complaints or the administrative investigations? >> i would put everything -- >> no, the administrative investigations need to stay with us. those are not allegations. similar to the police department, what they do, they do their internal investigations in this way. and the citizen complaints, i'm happy to have that discussion, but i think that's what we're here to talk about, is future discussions and future collaboration regarding any transitions that we may want to see happen. >> and decisions of administrative investigations only go forward if you decide that they rise to a higher level, correct? >> no. i have other people that look at them. the undersheriff generally looks at them, and we have our legal look at them at some point. but they don't make the determination on whether or not it goes forward.
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the law enforcement side does that. >> and who is over all of that? who has the final decision and the final say? >> i have the final say. >> thank you, sheriff. >> uh-huh. >> any other questions, colleagues? thank you so much. >> okay, thank you. >> chairman: and now we do have a representative from the district attorney's office, i believe, ms. christine de barry is here to speak on behalf of the d.a.'s office. thank you. >> thank you all, and thank you supervisor walton for calling this hearing. i would like to direct my comments to the portion of these investigations that are relevant to our office, which is a criminal investigation. some of the questions that have been asked by supervisor brown and others may be facilitated by me explaining that the challenges we had in the current case where we took a dismissal was because there was not a clear separation between the investigation and the criminal investigation.
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from our point of view, it is critical improvement that needs to be made. i know the sheriff indicates some improvements they have made internally, but we continue to have to take a dismissal on a very serious case, to have concerns about the lines of separation between those two types of investigations. it sounds as if there are movement afoot to make some improvements over the administrative investigations by referring those to the department of police accountability, that is outside of my purview, so i won't speak to that. but i think independence is always a helpful improvement. what i will say is d.p.a. is not invested with the authority to conduct a criminal investigation, and that would need to be handled either by the sheriff's department, as it is currently, or potentially by a law enforcement enttit entity or an entity that has sworn law enforcement officials. we created the independent investigations bureau several years ago to assist us in cases of
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officer-volvinvolved shootings, and it also includes cases of excessive use of force, and also things that occur in the custody of either the police department or the sheriff's department. and that is only with the police department, and not with the sheriff's department, therefore we are not involved in the inception of criminal investigations allegations within the sheriff's department or by their deputies. those investigations are currently handled internally by their internal affairs division. and when they determine that those allegations rise to something that has potential criminal conduct that requires our involvement, then it is referred to us. we're not involved in the investigation. we're not involved in the collection of the evidence. and we have learned from our involvement in the san francisco police department cases that is a critical juncture, where we are able to as assure that the investigation is conducted independently and thoroughly. as attorneys, we
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understand what is required of us in the courtroom. we go against public defender's office and private counsel all of the time, and we understand the threshold of evidence that will required of us to succeed in the prosecution, and therefore we often have much higher standards and expectations for the amount of evidence we want to see before bringing criminal charges. this has resulted in much more thorough investigations at officer-involved shootings and custody, and it is something you all and the sheriff may want to consider moving forward on the criminal investigations. without that, we find ourselves often in the situation that we are. unfortunately, a very serious case of jail fighting from several years ago, and the day we learned of it, we opened an investigation, and we worked with the f.b.i. to help us conduct that investigation. we asked the sheriff's department to stand down under the criminal investigation, and under
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another elected sheriff, that did not happen and three years later we ended up where we ended up. regarding the destruction of evidence, if i could just briefly, i believe that employees of the sheriff's department relayed to our office, as well as in court, that a hard drive has been smashed with a hammer. and now there is information that perhaps that didn't happen. i cannot tell you the outcome of that. whether that hard drive does or not exist, and we're continuing to wait for the sheriff's department to confirm one way or another. what i can tell you is it made a mess of our criminal prosecution. it is very difficult for us to proceed with a clean investigation and prosecution. we fought very hard for that case. we were disappointed to have to take a dismissal. fortunately, we do have an opportunity to refile that case. we have since referred that to our independent investigations bureau, and they are starting from scratch to conduct a
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thorough investigation and see if we can put that case back together, even with the infirmities that have happened through the first prosecution. there continues to be effort to be made on criminal investigations and where and how they are handled. i would also encourage you to think about if there are adequate stationary cameras in jail that can capture images such as these, and there are issues of abuse of force policies, and separations between the various investigations that i think would improve our ability to get to the truth in these accusations. >> thank you. >> i'd be happy to answer any question. questions. >> than thank you so much. supervisor brown? >> thank you, christine for being here. it is really helpful. so since the sheriff's department doesn't have the same structure as the police department, and that was created -- was
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that, like, four years ago? >> three. >> that was created because there was an outcry of what was happening and how things were handled inside. can you just talk about the success that you've had, now that your department has taken on these cases. and when does the d.a. get involved? i mean, do you jump in right away and take care of it instead of waiting? can you kind of just describe that process and then just how the success of it has played out in the last four years? >> sure. i'd be happy to. in cases of officer-involved shootings, we respond to the scene, along with the police department. the police department conducts the crime scene management because they have a staff of 2,000, and we have within that unit a staff of 12 that can be deployed. they collect the evidence. we oversee that collection
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of evidence and consult with them on how that evidence should be gathered and catalogued. i would say our most important role at the scene of officer-involved shootings is the gathering of witness statements and cataloging of those, and determining the order in which witnesses should be interviewed and by whom. and we now, as a result, are able to lead the inquiry with the involved deputy, rather than having a member of their own department conduct that questioning. it used to be handled by homicide within the department, and now that is handled by our attorneys and investigators. that has resulted in much more thorough investigations. we're able to ask questions that really allow us to pin down the details of what happens in one of these incidences, in ways that make it much clearer to us, whether there is or is not a criminal violation involved in that. oftentimes in the past we
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had problems of a lack of thorough questioning, and sometimes leading questioning, and it made it quite difficult for us to ferret out the truth as to what happened in one of these encounters. so we feel much more confident in our review of those incidents, the details of what happened, and the decision-making that went into the officer's decisions in those incidences. we also, as a result of that, now receive more referrals from the san francisco police department for force cases, and we have several of those filed. some you have read about in the paper, and others maybe not quite yet. that has allowed us us to bring forward questions where officers in the san francisco police department have used excessive force on members of our community. those were cases that we very rarely saw in the past. so we're pleased to know that that relationship has allowed us to take over those investigations and bring them forward. it has always become a ferral place for other members of law enforcement, and members of the fire department and
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others have made referrals to us, as well as the general public. so i think primary to all of this, the conversation you all are having is about the independence and the ability to be sure you have an im partial referee as to whether there is or is not a crime. and the thoroughness and the transparency, we make those available to the public, which i think is important. >> so you start right away? you jump in right away. >> right away. >> so if there is any evidence, you're able to get that right away? >> yes. >> you're not waiting for evidence, waiting for something to come in. as you said, you're able to question witnesses right away because we all know that after time passes, memories fade or things change, and so you're able to get in there right away. >> right. >> and so you feel that has been very successful as you're moving forward in these cases?
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>> dramatic improvement for us. you will recall something several years that happened in the mission district, in a residential area, and very few of the residents were contacted and interviewed. and this is prior to us forming i.i.b., and we had to spend almost a year trying to reconstruct which individuals lived in that neighborhood at that time and what they may have seen, and try to gather their statements. it was very time-con tooconsumig and less efficient to do it retrospectively. and it is much better to do it as the individuals are there. >> and it is probably much more costly to do it that way, too, when you're waiting, because of all of the time you have to put in there. it is not time-efficient, so that means you're spending lots of hours, which means lots of public hours, trying to do something that is not very efficient and sometimes just doesn't work out, correct? >> agreed.