San Francisco Police Chief Says Making Criminals Sit on Ground is 'Demeaning'
Liberal head of SF's police force blocks practice saying it demeans criminals
San Francisco Police Chief William Scott has sent a memo to the rest of his force, banning officers from making criminals sit on the floor, saying it is "demeaning."
The practice, used by police forces worldwide, is intended to slow a suspect down should they attempt to flee after being apprehended.
But police officers in San Francisco may no longer demand that suspects – whether they are handcuffed or not – sit on the ground or sidewalk at a crime scene, the city’s police chief ordered in a department memo.
According to the Bay Area’s FOX 2, liberal Police Chief Scott views the technique as “demeaning” to suspects.
The change is “aligned with 21st century policing, our department values and our commitment to providing safety with respect to everyone whom our officers encounter,” a police department spokesman told FOX 2.
“In order to carry out duties respectfully and professionally, sitting a subject on the ground or sidewalk should be done only as a last resort and only when necessary,” the chief’s memo says.
The chief recommends instead that officers place suspects “secured in a police vehicle” when “sufficient help is on the scene.”
In times of “exceptional circumstances,” such as when a suspect is resisting arrest, officers may have no choice but to take a suspect to the ground, the chief acknowledges.
Whenever that happens, however, the chief wants to know about it.
“Officer shall document, in an incident report, anytime it is necessary to seat an individual on the ground,” the chief writes.
EXCLUSIVE: @SFPD defends new policy prohibiting officers from telling people to 'sit down.' #SFPD spokesman says the change is "aligned with 21st century policing, our department values and our commitment to providng safety with respect to everyone whom our officers encounter." pic.twitter.com/l6iVhEehgG— Heather Holmes (@HeatherKTVU) December 12, 2018
The memo does not mention any specific incidents as having prompted the policy statement.
Scott became the city’s police chief in January 2017 after serving 27 years in the Los Angeles Police Department, according to his official San Francisco Police Department biography.
Earlier this month, a study by the University of California at Berkeley credited an increase in foot patrols by San Francisco police with helping to reduce crime in the city.
The city reassigned about 3.5 percent of its officers to foot patrols in summer 2017, and saw drops in assaults, larceny and vehicle thefts, the study said, according to the Daily Californian.
But the department has also seen its share of turmoil. Last week the family of a 21-year-old man – who was killed by a San Francisco police officer in 2016 -- filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city, the San Francisco Examiner reported.
The suit alleges that police overreacted to a situation at a barbershop instead of using de-escalation tactics being encouraged since 2016, the report said.