SFPD won't allow public oversight of its surveillance work with the FBI, despite high-profile legislation requiring it
But the report still omitted key oversight information, such as whether any prosecutions resulted from JTTF and SFPD investigations, which would allow the Muslim Legal Fund of America and other groups to determine who the SFPD is arresting and why.
Last year, Suhr told a San Francisco Examiner reporter that his officers followed up on 2,000 tips regarding counterterrorism activities. However, this information curiously did not make it into the official report.
"We contacted the chief to let him know we were not okay with this. We had another meeting with him and he said he'd think about it and get back to us and now he is claiming he cannot honor a basic component of the ordinance," Bargzie told us. "He asserts in writing this is because the FBI will not let him share the basic information."
The weak efforts behind the implementation of the SSFCRO date back to Mayor Lee's veto of a stronger ordinance in April 2012, which would have codified privacy protections and given the Police Commission more power to stop FBI-SFPD activities that did not comply with Department General Order (DGO) 8.10, the 1990 policy aimed at protecting First Amendment activities. After Lee's veto, the Board of Supervisors passed a weaker version. Both were sponsored by Sup. Jane Kim.
John Crew, a former police practices expert with the Northern California American Civil Liberties Union, raised concerns to the Guardian about the weakened legislation. "It is a step in the right direction, there's no doubt it's progress," Crew told us at the time. "But whether it's real progress depends on the implementation. Ultimately, it will come down to political will at the Police Commission to enforce privacy protections."
Much of the ordinance's failure stems from the apparent lack of real intent to disclose what the activists sought. Critics painted the SSFCRO signing ceremony as a hollow symbolic act, a way for Mayor Lee and Chief Suhr to publicly promote civil rights and progressive ideals with an ordinance they purposefully weakened.
"My sense is that [the SFPD] is not taking this seriously," Bargzie told us. "I think they probably believe that they are providing as much information as the FBI will let them and Chief Suhr thinks it's fine that the FBI can tell him to share what they tell him to."
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