A voluntary review and reform program for police departments overseen by the U.S. Department of Justice is undergoing "significant changes," including effectively ending federal oversight of the San Francisco Police Department that began early last year, Justice Department officials confirmed Tuesday.
The news wasn't necessarily a surprise. Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered a review of all reform agreements across the country in April, and a change in direction was expected. But the extent of the change still came as a shock to the former Department of Justice official who ran the program until earlier this year.
"I didn't think they were going to effectively end collaborative reform, which is what it seems like," said Ron Davis, the former director of the Justice Department's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services who oversaw the growth of the collaborative reform program and its implementation in San Francisco.
"This Department of Justice is really missing a great opportunity to work collaboratively with the field to address some of the greatest challenges in our democracy as far as dealing with issues of force, race, trust, community policing -- these are the foundations of effective crimefighting," Davis said. "To think that you can just round up a bunch of people, make a lot of arrests, target immigrants and reduce crime is a disservice to entire communities and it’s a disservice to public safety."
The Collaborative Reform Initiative was at work in 15 major police departments throughout the nation. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and former Police Chief Greg Suhr requested inclusion in the program after the fatal police shooting of Mario Woods in December 2015.