San Francisco Police Take Anti-Racism Vow. Will It Work?

Lucy Schouten, Christian Science Monitor, January 30, 201

The San Francisco police department is trying a new approach to target racism in its ranks: a pledge against racism and intolerance.

The same forces of discontent between the police and the community that have sparked violent protest in some cities have touched liberal San Francisco, but the pledge announced Monday with an accompanying website is an effort by a popular police chief to restore trust.

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The verbal reinforcement and clear statement of objectives is one effort to change attitudes, but the department is also training for more “less-than-lethal” deescalation techniques. {snip}

The new website shows officers reciting the pledge, which is designed to be repeated by officers at graduation and each January afterward.

“I will not tolerate hate or bigotry in our community or from my fellow officers,” states one section of the seven-point pledge. “I will confront intolerance and report any such conduct without question or pause.”

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The website states the pledge was developed by Yulanda Williams, president of a union for minority officers, in 2015. Ms. Williams began work on the pledge after text messages among police officers were released describing her and others with charged racial language. Chief Suhr fired eight officers over the scandal, Heather Knight and Emily Green reported for the San Francisco Chronicle at the time.

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The pledge idea gained more urgency after protests erupted over the police shooting of a knife-wielding black man, Mario Woods, on Dec. 2. The pledge was endorsed by the local NAACP and police union, and nearly all the responses to the announcement on the department’s Facebook page expressed support for the department.

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