San Francisco’s Police Commission questioned top police officials yesterday about why a much-discussed tracking system aimed at early identification of problem officers has yet to be implemented, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. “They have built cities in less time than it has taken this department to put this system together,” said Commissioner Joe Veronese. “I just find it hard to believe in practice this is really a priority.” The tough questions from the commission came amid a series of articles in the Chronicle on problems with the way the Police Department has responded to complaints of excessive force and the way it has disciplined problem officers.
Police officials said the department’s slow upgrade of computer systems, caused in part by budget cuts, has kept it from establishing an early-warning system to identify problem officers. Police Chief Heather Fong said The Chronicle made at least two factual errors. One claimed a particular officer was named in a lawsuit when he was not, she said, and in the other instance the newspaper claimed an officer had failed to report using force when in fact he had reported it. Said Editor Phil Bronstein: “Chief Fong did not provide us with specifics tonight of what she has alleged are inaccuracies in our reporting; if she does, we’re certainly willing to look into each one and respond. “Again, The Chronicle got most of its information in the series from the Police Department itself. The department — and, by extension, the Police Commission and the mayor’s office — has access to it already.”