SFPD & Community Sit Down for Citywide Public Safety Zoom

San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) Chief William Scott, SFPD Command staff and SF SAFE came together to host a Virtual Citywide Public Safety Meeting Thurs., Sept. 2 on Zoom. The meetings, which are held quarterly, give the SFPD and community members the chance to discuss key topics surrounding safety in San Francisco, specifically, community policing strategies, community engagement, the Community Liaison Unit and recruitment. Chief Scott began the meeting with a warm greeting that included well-wishes for those with loved ones impacted by the California fires, Hurricane Ida and the U.S. military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. He then offered a general overview and turned to his SFPD Command staff for introductions.

The chief then took time to underscore the overriding aim of the Citywide Public Safety Meeting. “We invite everybody to be at the table…what we want to get out of these meetings is stronger relationships—partners that are willing to sit down with us and work with us and on our end. We’re open to ideas and we’re open and

listening to what you think and what your expectations are for us to be the police department that you want us to be,” he said.

SFPD Assistant Chief of Operations Mike Redmond outlined the key topics up for discussion at the meeting. “We’re gonna have four quick presentations around community policing and the strategic plan and policy around that community engagement. Our Community Liaison Unit will give an update on the progress they’re making and then recruitment. And then we’ll break out into groups,” he said.

Deputy Chief David Lazar picked up from there, starting with an overview of what community policing is. “It means a lot of different things to a lot of people,” said the deputy chief, “but at the basic level, it’s when the police and the community come together to build trust, to build relationships, to work together and to solve problems. When we think about community policing and building trust and working together, it’s solving problems [and] that is also engagement.”

He went on to explain to the participants that, prior to 2018, the SFPD didn’t have a Community Policing Strategic Plan to guide the way they were going to engage

with the community and cooperatively solve problems.

Since then, Deputy Chief Lazar said he’s “very grateful to have worked with many people on this plan, many of you that are with us today, worked on this plan with me and others, the department. But in 2018, we had about 500 individuals surveyed, 300 businesses [and] 100 SFPD members all worked together over a series of 20 meetings to develop what I think is one of the most collaborative plans, if not in the state, the country.”

He outlined that Community Policing Strategic Plan that they developed has five goals and 21 objectives and is “the guiding document for us to engage and to work on a community policing community engagement level and really in anything we’re doing with regards to our strategies on prevention, or education or enforcement, or working with the community,” he said. He said that now that the plan is developed, the ten district police station captains will use it as a template to “build what they’re doing in the community.” Read the Community Policing Strategic Plan in its entirety here.

The deputy chief emphasized that the meeting “is about…getting all of you to work with your captains to help us build those plans on an annual basis—and not just to build a plan and put it on the shelf, but to really use it as what we are doing to engage and to partner with those that we serve all throughout the year, whether it’s national night out, whether it’s some sort of event, whether it’s problem solving to deal with a neighborhood problem. Let’s work together to make those plans successful…that’s what tonight is about,” he said.

Following Deputy Chief Lazar’s remarks, SFPD Captain Nicole Jones of the Ingleside Station talked about community policing from a captain’s perspective; Acting

Captain Wilfred Williams from the Community Engagement Division provided a general update; and Sergeant of Recruitment Christina Serrano spoke about

declining police department applications nationwide and the focus on mentoring applicants for the SFPD.

From there, the SFPD Command staff and participants entered four different breakout sessions centered around the key meeting topics of discussion: community

policing strategies; community engagement; the Community Liaison Unit; and recruitment. After a while, participants were able to switch breakouts to join another discussion and add their insights.

When the breakouts ended, session leaders gave brief overviews of their discussions for the whole group and then Chief Scott thanked everyone and wrapped up the meeting.

Save the date for the next Citywide Public Safety Meeting, set for Thurs., Dec. 2. Follow @SFPD or @SFSAFE on social media to stay updated on community meetings and more.

-Kathy Chouteau