Proposition D — November 2020

From the San Francisco November 2020 Nonpartisan Voter Guide.

The San Francisco Police Department is overseen by the Police Commission, while the Sheriff’s Department does not have a local oversight body. Sheriff’s departments are established by state law, and deputies’ responsibilities are set forth by the state, too. The city’s Board of Supervisors doesn’t have the power to directly control the sheriff.

This charter amendment would create a city body, the Sheriff’s Department Oversight Board, which would include an inspector general. Neither would have disciplinary power over deputies or staff, nor could they set policy or issue directives. The board would have the power to hold hearings and issue subpoenas, force deputies or other sheriff’s staff to appear at hearings, access facilities — including jails — and refer cases to the district attorney for criminal prosecution.

David Pilpel submitted the opposition to this measure, arguing that the Sheriff’s Department already has an accountability mechanism, namely its internal affairs investigation unit. Proponents point out that that is part of the department, whereas this oversight body and the inspector general would be independent of the department. The opponent also argues that there are other existing city bodies that could take on this outside role — like the city attorney, civil grand juries or even the existing Department of Police Accountability.

The city controller estimates this would cost slightly less than $3 million a year.