Prop E allows San Francisco police to pursue any suspect in a crime; changes some police policies

Prop E allows San Francisco police to pursue any suspect in a crime; changes some police policies

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — The San Francisco Police Commission is meeting to decide whether to continue with Proposition E, a voter-approved measure that gives police more powers to pursue suspects on San Francisco streets.

The measure also allows police to use drones in chases and enables officers to reduce paperwork so they can spend more time on the ground.

In May, a police chase began in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District, wound through North Beach and ended at the Embarcadero.

Along the way, a 14-year-old girl was injured – she was hit by the suspect’s car while trying to cross the street near Francisco Middle School.

But the police warn that without their intervention, others could have been injured.

MORE: Teen among 2 injured in San Francisco hit-and-run; driver arrested, police say

According to the SFPD, two pedestrians, including a 14-year-old girl, were struck and injured by the same driver at different locations in downtown San Francisco.

On Wednesday evening, the San Francisco Police Commission will consider Prop E.

Proposition E was approved by voters in March.

It gives voters more leeway when it comes to chases. Mayor London Breed put the measure to the vote.

“I don’t think anyone wants their child, their mother, their family member or anyone else to get hit in a chase or for police officers to get hurt, so we have to be very careful how we adjust this policy,” said San Francisco Supervisor Asha Safai. “People 100% want police to put safety first. If we have the lowest arrest rate and the highest injury rate in these chases, we have to be very careful how we implement it.”

“We continue to believe that Prop E puts San Francisco residents at risk by increasing police chases and covering up the use of force,” said Yoel Haile of the ACLU of Northern California. “We will monitor the SFPD’s practices to protect people’s constitutional rights.”

On Wednesday afternoon, San Francisco Deputy Public Defender Brian Cox issued the following statement:

“Police chases have long been banned in San Francisco and many other large, densely populated cities because they are dangerous and claim hundreds of lives across the country each year. Loosening these restrictions and giving officers more discretion goes against best practices that the San Francisco Police Department itself has recognized and reinforced over the past 20 years,” Cox said.

MORE: Person arrested after leading SFPD officers on chase through city

A person was arrested after leading San Francisco police officers on a chase that ended in the Mission District Tuesday afternoon.

Kevin Benedicto is the police chief of San Francisco and was originally against Prop E.

“I continue to believe that Prop E poses real risks. I continue to disagree with many of the changes in Prop E.

But as a commissioner, it is my duty to continue to enforce San Francisco laws, and voters passed Prop E,” Benedicto said. “We are working closely with the department to expand circumstances as Prop E requires, but trying to make sure as many safeguards and measures are in place as possible.”

The San Francisco Police Commission will discuss seven policy changes in Prop E.

They allow police to initiate a pursuit if they believe the suspect is involved in a crime or violent offense.

MORE: San Francisco attack leads to police chase, ‘suspicious objects’ thrown at cops, officials say

A suspected assault offender led police on a chase in San Francisco and allegedly threw “suspicious objects” from the vehicle along the way, police said.

Prop E also allows officers to use drones in police chases.

“I am certainly in favor of certain technological innovations that increase the safety of our officers,” Benedicto said.

The measure also allows officers to reduce paperwork so they can get back on site more quickly.

“All of these (changed policies) can make them more efficient and protect San Francisco residents,” said Frank Noto of Stop Crime Action, a victims’ rights organization that works to reduce crime in San Francisco.

Noto said that while officers will not pursue suspects if the circumstances are too dangerous, Prop E will give them more options in doing their jobs.

“It’s not a big change, but it gives the police more flexibility,” Noto said.

“It will reduce drug trafficking, it will reduce serious crime, it will reduce car break-ins and it will save lives.”

“By giving officers more time to spend more time out in the community and by giving them the tools to work more efficiently and hold people accountable, we are making San Francisco safer,” said Mayor London Breed.

MORE: 4 theft suspects arrested at Lululemon store after chase from Napa to Oakland: police

A car linked to a break-in at a Lululemon store overturned Monday afternoon after a chase from Napa to Oakland, authorities said.

The San Francisco Police Union released this statement on Wednesday:

“The people of San Francisco have clearly spoken out in favor of giving our officers innovative tools to efficiently solve crimes and prioritizing our time in the community to prevent crimes before they happen. These actions make San Francisco safer, period,” said Lt. Tracy McCray, president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association.

If the revised policy is approved, the San Francisco Police Commission will send it to the union for review, with final approval due by October.

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