tv KQED Newsroom PBS March 28, 2021 5:00pm-5:31pm PDT
safer cities and equal justice for all. what needs to change make that reality? mrs. oakland police chief, leronne armstrong and chief will scott talk about policing the streets and challenges they face. we speak with social justice activists, lisa mcnair, about how san francisco can make policing more equitable. we have at these marine mammals in this look at something beautiful. welcome to kqed newsroom. we have a special focus tonight and justice, and police reform as we will be talking with leaders of two of the bay area's largest police forces. before we begin, if you
highlights from this week's news in california. of hospitalizations continued their downward trend throughout the state, and more counties are moving into the orange tear. meaning, bars can open our doors without food service, and inter- businesses, such as restaurants and movie theaters, can increase their capacity to 50%. governor gavin newsom appointed assembly memo new attorney general. if confirmed by the state legislature as expected, he will become the first filipino- american in the position. >> now more than ever we need leaders in government and leaders in law enforcement will build bridges with communities that have been persecuted, targeted. >> we are entering another drought in california. the state water board morning is to brace for cuts and have asked users to conserve water supplies. we turn out to the main topic of our show, police reform.
efforts to create equal justice for all, regardless of the color of their skin. last summer, the killing of george floyd, but minnesota police, sparked protests across the nation, here in the bay area. san francisco protests were mostly peaceful, but the unrest showed a bright light on how police handle conflict. sfpd has faced calls for defining of their work, while the coronavirus pandemic has created new challenges in day- to-day policing and taking a bite of their budget. department has done its own so solution. this week is hosting a discussion on please reform with lisa mcnair, an activist, his sister was one of four girls killed in the birmingham church bombing of 1963. joining me now by skype from san francisco, police chief william scott. hello, chief scott. >> how are you? >> thanks for being with us. and social justice activist lisa mcnair. thank you for joining us.
>> hello, thank you for having me. >> chief scott come you invited lisa mcnair to speak to your department is week. what was the message you wanted your officers to hear? >> well, 2020 has been a terribly difficult year. it really brought a conversation about race in our country to the forefront. our country has a significant history with racially motivated hate incidents and the like. really, the theme of lisa's message, i think is so powerful. i wanted a snack command staff to hear a message of reconciliation, forgiveness, terrible incidents that make up our history but forgiveness that will be what it takes for all of us to move forward be a better country, better city, better police department. >> when usace forgiveness who are hoping who will forgive who? >> i think forgiveness is on every side of this conversation.
policing, we have some significant challenges. particularly in san francisco. part of our reform initiative is set out to address disparities, particularly policing people of color and african-americans. on both sides of that issue we have the use of force that has occurred where people have lost their lives. we have officers who have lost their lives. we have had tension even in r city of san francisco. in order to move forward people have to really step back, have these difficult conversations, acknowledge the pain and hurt and wrongs that have happened and forgive. i think there is room to do that on every side of this equation. >> we will get back to those police reforms in a bit. lisa, tell us first about your personal journey, and why you are here speaking on those issues?
my older sister was denise mcnair, one of the youngest girls killed in the 16th street church bombing in 1963. a bomb was planted by the and it killed those girls and damaged the church and injured several others. i am here to share that story and share life lessons me and my family have learned over the years, dealing with this national tragedy. my goal is always the hope to bring together unity and help human beings understand we are all human beings and we can do better together than we can apart. >> lisa where you see the resistance coming in? where you see the people are not as comfortable with your message? >> i think the big thing is the human being thing. no one wants to acknowledge they have bad thoughts about other people. no one wants to admit that they
have done bad things to other people based on race or gender. to really have a hard conversation about who we are as a people can be challenging. the only way for us to have real healing is to take our shame and pain out from under the table and deal with it. that is the only way we can come together. >> chief scott let's talk about the scrutiny police department's are facing across the country and of course here in san francio about how officers handle interactions involving people of color. the concern is that the color of your skin, or socioeconomic status changes the treatment you can expect from the police whether use of force or likelihood of getting pulled over or arrested, how are you responding to the concern? >> first of all, we, san francisco police department, are in the midst of a massive reform effort going on since
2016 when the u.s. doj came in and recommended, 94 findings, 272 recommendations, findings where the san francisco police department actually had huge disparity in terms of policing in the african-american community in our city. will stop use offorce them out of proportion arrests, searches. in other words evidence found was less lower among blacks at the time dinner was with white's which was an indication there might be problems we need to dig into. those 272 recommendations were geared to address those issues. we are, at this point, 162 found to be in substantial compliance. another 38 or so we believe we will be done in april. >> so you're coming towards -- that over 90% completion. >> of those what are a view of
the components that you felt were really major changes that you implemented, and having made a difference? >> i will give you one that is really, really huge. use of force general order. use of force general order is the department's guidelines on when we are allowed to use force and what the rules are to use force. that was one of the first ones revised and redone under this reform recommendation. it was transformative. >> what changed? >> that revision and toeholds, shooting and moving vehicles, included, for the first time in this department's history, language that really explains and demanded that we take into account the sanctity of life which i believe we did, but it is now policy. it also requires de-escalation.
requires duty for officers to intervene if they believe that force partner officers are administering is excessive or necessary, if they don't intervene they will be found guilty of misconduct of those proven to be true. so this was huge for this department, as a result, since the use of force general order was revised and updated, we have seen use of force steadily declined over the last five yearssignificantly. 50% decline in terms of appointing of a firearm in san francisco that is use of force when you intentionally.environment an individual. we have seen over 60% reduction use of force pointing a firearm and african-american residents of our city. that's huge. >> do you see that actually building trust? you see that is reducing crim
>> as far as reform? >> both. we have to build trust. part of building trust people have to see us as legitimate they have to see what we do as legitimate. if we do that, we can reduce crime. people cooperate more. business now, when people trust their police officers that they come in contact with i don't care what your role of the department is, they are going to have to cooperate you. when they see your work as legitimate, trustworthy, credible they are more app to work with you. when that happens, community policing can be fully implemented because that partnership is what reduces crime, solves crime. much as police. we cannot do this work along. so reform means everything to building trust and using force is a big part of it. people see the force we use and believe it is not legitimate, it does undermine trust.
was a huge recommendation we were able to implement, among others, but that one was big. >> lisa, what about u, coming here as an outsider, what do you see is the major issue for the sfpd to overcome, to make our system more racially just when it comes to policing? >> i think it sounds like they are doing a great job. justremembering that there are human beings on the other side, when you meet them when you're dealing with people you think might be committing a crime human beings just like the officers are human beings. people behind the uniform are human beings first. i think we have to keep that steadily in the forefront of our minds and remember how we would like to be treated. of people can think that way, that will make the police force better, which will make our communities better. >> chief scott, went to
specifically ask you about closely came over the summer to defund the police. what effect would defunding have on your police. >> when we speak of defund the police, it means different things to different people. for ask, the call has been to reallocate resources. to re- envision policing if you will. we support, this department, and i is chief of police, support some of that. look, i have an organization to run, and i have a tremendous operation to run with tremendous needs and expectation. respond to over 300,000 calls someone's picking up the phone and dialing 911, 311 or the nonemergency number saying by the police department's help. we need the staffing, we need the equipment, we need the training to respond of those calls effectively. i definitely do not advocate
defunding. >> chief scott, what does it mean to balance the needs of your community and your officers? and your own personal mental and physical health? in the job that you have? >> it can become easy to be cynical when you see so many bad things day in and day out. you have to balance that with the good that you see. that means getting out of your car, when you are on patrol, engaging with people, talking to people outside of a crisis situation, to keep the balanced perspective. i know that work for me on my way through my career, and it works for me too this day. i still, the best part of my job is when i get to interact with the public. all the other things, politics, death decisions. those are part of what i have to do. what keeps me in balance is interaction with the public. positive interactions. that really is really important in policing. and, you also have to keep
balance with your family because this job is all- consuming. if you don't keep your spiritual and family life balanced with your work, that has shown actually, this is part of our reform, that has shown to be detrimental to community policing. shown to be detrimental to our efforts to reduce force. >> chief williams, lisa mcnair, visiting us from birmingham, alabama. thank you both for being here. >> thank you so much for having me. >> thank you for having me. we are only a few months into 2021, but the california homicide rate is up about 30% over last year. in oakland, there have been 33 homicides to date, this year compared to ten at this point in 2020, and 16 in 2019.
over the past decade, oakland has had a total of 11 police chiefs. several have been interim appointments, while others have served for a few years. the latest, leronne armstrong, sworn in last month. at 22 veteran of the department most recently serving as deputy chief. a native of oakland who lost his older brother to gun violence. you want some people have what he didn't, trust in law enforcement and a sense of safety. joining me by skyped from oakland is chief leronne armstrong. thank you so much for joining us but thank you for having me. >> you have certainly worked your way up the ranks, what do you want to do now that you are in the top job? >> i really want to change the culture of the department. i want to make oakland a safe city and come into compliance with the negotiated settlement agreement we have been under for 18 years. is about time. >> those are three very specif items, let's start with the first.
how are you hoping to change the culture of the department? what needs to change? >> i hope mind being grounded in oakland and born and raised in oakland is something that i can bring to our department that really says to all my members of the oakland police department that we are part of the community. we have to get out and walk-in our community, make relationships in our community and do our best to gain the trust of the community. obviously the trust in the oakland police department has been fractured for many years. i really think in this moment there's an opportunity. i spent my 22 year career working closely in the community, being on the ground, building relationships. that is what i am pushing my officers to do. to get to know their community and be part of the community. and to seek trust from those that they serve. >> the language about getting to know people in your community and community policing has been around for a long time. what has that not happened yet? >> some leaders view community
policing differently. i reallyview community policing as an opportunity to get to know those that you are sworn to serve, to appreciate what community brings to the table, to hear their voices, what they like, what they don't like in policing and just have conversations with people about how you can do a better job making oakland safe. it also started with the idea the oakland or's deserve to live in a safe city. that is my mantra from the beginning. i do it personally it starts with me. i started walking in the community on my first day. even after i got sworn in, as soon as i took my right hand down i left the ceremony and went to the chinatown community and began working with the chinatown community to help make them safe. >> many in oakland do not feel safe. homicides are up significantly. can you talk about what's happening there? not just homicides but other
criminal activity as well. you said your mother doesn't feel safe going out at night. can you give us a snapshot of safety in oakland right now? >> we experienced a spike in violence across the city. violence related to homicides the increase in homicides, uptick in shootings. we currently sit at 33 homicides for the year, a 200% increase compared to where we were last year. we have an increase in shootings in our city. up to 128 shootings this year. that is over 100%. also working hard to prevent violent crime. we have recovered over 228 firearms this year. so we know that this is going to take a concerted effort to address violence. we understand people have been preying on the most vulnerable in our community, the chinatown community and other communities throughout the city of oakland. i think for us to solve this problem is going to take a
holistic approach. that means law enforcement, it also means community. partnership with our department of violence prevention we can get violence interrupters into the community to prevent crimes from occurring. >> can you talk to us specifically about the issues that you are seeing that have been raised because of the pandemic, gang violence for example, has been up. some of the people joining are very young. >> unfortunately gang violence has been up. i think that we haven't been able to utilize our cease-fire strategy as we have over the past several years. our cease-fire strategy has been truly successful reducing violent crime in the city. for many years we have seen historical lows in homicides. when the pandemic hit, it did not allow us to practice the strategy in the way in which we have done for many years. we can no longer directly communicate with people of the highest risk. we weren't able to do what we call collins, essentially bringing in those of the
highest risk of violence and communicating to them and providing support and services as an alternative to violence. the pandemic shut those things down because we had to follow the regulations related to our covid pandemic. we were able to meet, we had to be socially distanced, we didn't understand the complexities of the covid pandemic. >> we talked with chief scott about this at length. police department's across the country facing scrutiny for how they handle interactions for people with color. how does your department respond to this issue? >> we have been practicing procedural justice in our department, which really centers around treating people with dignity and respect. lowing people to have a voice and have respect in interactions. continuing to provide procedural justice training within our department. we will be working with stanford to actually create a course in cultural competency. we know there has been race issues across the country when it comes to policing, and we want to have those difficult
conversations within the oakland police department. officers have been trained in bias, identifying bias, how to intervene in implicit bias. all these things are important, as we discuss how do we interact with our community in a way that is respectful, but also allowing people to feel like they have trust in law enrcement, confidence in us and they had do not have to fear law enforcement when they come into contact with police that there have been problems with bias in the oakland police department for many years now and even recently dealing with the fallout now from social media posts in which oakland police department officers expressed racist attitudes just a few months ago. teller audience a little about the situation in your response? >> unfortunately like many departments across the country, we experienced, obviously, social media posts not consistent with the values of this police department. on day one, when i was sworn in, i said to the community i would not tolerate that type of
behavior. we would do everything we could. i would root out those involved inny connection to white super mr. extreme's behavior. we have an internal investigation underway to identify any officers that might have these sort of ideas. i have been very clear that it will t be tolerated in the oakland police department. i have communicated that to the organization, so at the conclusion of the investigation, i think we will better understand how deep this problem maybe. >> let's go to the third item you said you really want to make a difference in, coming into compliance with regulations that should be happening in your department. for those who don't know because it started quite a while ago, almost 20 years ago, what is the consent decree that oakland is under and what progress do you still need to make? >> the oakland police department is under what we call a negotiated settlement agreement. we agreed to this 51 tasks
associated with this agreement, over 18 years ago. since agreeing to this, essentially federal oversight, we have not come into full compliance with those 51 tasks. there has been several incidents that have caused the department to regress in some ways. i have come in, committed to moving this department forward. i started with putting in place a new executive command staff, the most diverse command staff in the history of the oakland police department. i created a new bureau called the bureau risk management that will provide consistent oversight of the department. and hold our organization accountable. essentially for us, compliance rests on the fact is this department policing in the constitutional fashion. are we following our own policies, actions within the law and are we holding ourselves accountable. and all those things i am
seeking to accomplish his chief of oakland police department. >> we've been confronted, especially the last three months with this rise in anti- asian american violence across the nation, but certainly here in california. something you are contending with those lice chief. tell us what you are doing, forces you are deploying to change that? >> one i did is police chief, immediately assigned a chinatown liaison officer. i think it's important you have somebody that can communicate with the community. today, i attended a rally to stop crimesagainst our asian community in chinatown today. because we as a community in oakland take a zero tolerance for hate in the city of oakland. i wanted them to know i am a partner. we have also seen business owners contribute funds to provide additional cameras in the chinatown area. i think this is a real opportunity for oakland to unite around our stance against hate. everyone in our community
deserves to live in a safe community but particularly vulnerable communities. >> really revolving door when it comes to this top position. you are the 11th chief in ten years. i'm assuming you would like to stay in the job. what's going to make a difference or? >> i think the biggest difference will be all the things i mentioned at the beginning. can i help reduce and make oakland a safe city? cut out the department finally reach full compliance with the negotiated settlement agreement? can we begin to build trust in our community? can our community for like this is department they can have trust and confidence in? that's my goal, my guiding principal and our work to get there. >> we wish you all the best. >> thank you so much. >> after the loma prieta earthquake rocked the san francisco bay area in 1989, sea lions began hanging out on pier
captioning spoored by wnet >> sreenivasan: on this edition for sunday, march 28: covid-19 cases rise as vaccination efforts increase; and in our >> sreenivasan: and in our signature segment: the origins of non-unanimous jury verdicts and what's ahead for those convicted by them. next on “pbs newshour weekend.” >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: sue and edgar wachenheim iii. the anderson family fund.