SFPD Reports Steady Drop In Use Of Force

Doug Sovern
November 08, 2019 - 6:22 pm
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - FEBRUARY 27: San Francisco police cars sit parked in front of the Hall of Justice on February 27, 2014 in San Francisco, California. A federal grand jury has indicted five San Francisco police officers and one former officer in two cas

(Photo credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)


Once beleaguered by a series of scandals and a rash of deadly shootings by cops, the San Francisco Police Department's new policy to limit the use of force is working, according to Deputy Chief Greg Yee.

Deputy Yee told KCBS Radio that cops have been taking a different approach to potentially dangerous situations.

“Really emphasizing the safety and sanctity of life with de-escalation, communication, and allowing the officers (when feasible) to slow situations down,” Yee said of their revised tactics.

In the third quarter of this year, cops used force only 0.1% of the time. Their overall use of force is down 24% in the past 12 months, and 47% in the last three years. They haven't shot anyone since the summer of 2018.

“It is encouraging that the numbers are going down,” said Yee. “But it’s still a continual process, a continuation of work and commitment that we have to keep going.”

Civil rights activists say the department is still disproportionately aggressive toward people of color, and is taking far too long to implement a series of federally recommended reforms.

Deputy Yee said cops are gradually learning, like how to ask someone why they're waving a knife and calm them down, instead of shouting, "Drop the knife or I'll shoot.”

"It takes time to add the purpose, the why to the officers," Yee said. "Why are we doing this? And the basic why is that we're here to help people."