SFPD Chief Reflects On Police Reform

Kathy Novak
July 02, 2020 - 9:54 am

    As calls for police reform continue here in the Bay Area and around the country, the San Francisco Police Department is examining how it can make changes.

    With over three decades of experience in policing, Police Chief Bill Scott has seen a lot. 

    “This movement is unlike I’ve ever seen,” he told KCBS Radio. “The energy behind this movement is really something to behold. So I think it will foster change. But I don’t think everything will change overnight.”

    Scott says the protests have resonated with him. “I think that we’ve reached this tipping point, if you will, where people are demanding change and I definitely understand that. I hear people. As a Black man I have my own experiences and things do need to change.”

    Changes like reducing bias, diverting resources to underserved neighborhoods and allowing community-based organizations to respond to non-criminal activity, including homelessness outreach. 

    “At 2am or 11pm when most of the other entities are not at work, they’re not in service, we get called oftentimes by default because people don’t know who else to call,” he said. “We have to rethink that and we have to expand our capacity to address those issues with resources other than police officers.”

    And as a Black police chief, he says he is glad to have a seat at the table. “Particularly as it relates to policing in the AA community. Communities of color I hope to leave things a little bit better than I found it.”

    Scott says the SFPD is still ahead of the curve in several ways. The SFPD is already implementing the “8 Can’t Wait” police reform policies highlighted by the advocacy group Campaign Zero.

    “We were one of two cities - us and Tuscon, Arizona - that had all eight of these factors. So we’re doing a lot of things well.”

    But still with more work to do.