SFPD to suspend collaboration with FBI counterterrorism program

SF Gate – by Vivian Ho

San Francisco police will suspend the department’s much-criticized collaboration with FBI counterterrorism efforts, police said Wednesday, in an announcement that was celebrated by civil liberties and immigration advocates who have long called for stricter oversight of local participation in federal enforcement.

The announcement comes as San Francisco moves to disengage from the federal government under the Trump administration, especially in regard to the president’s directives on immigration and the treatment of Muslims.  

The Joint Terrorism Task Force, which has two full-time city officers assigned to it, was established in 2007, when the police force entered into an agreement with the FBI that authorized intelligence-gathering by San Francisco officers of people engaged in First Amendment activities such as religious services, protests and political assemblies.

Advocates penned a letter to the Police Commission last month raising concerns that the department would follow federal law over local ordinances such as San Francisco’s sanctuary city policy, which limits city employees’ cooperation with federal immigration agents.

Under the Trump administration, they said, it is more important than ever that San Francisco officers commit to enforcing San Francisco policies.

While police officials acknowledged that they heard the community’s concerns, they said they were suspending participation in the Joint Terrorism Task Force because the memorandum of understanding on it was reaching its 10th year.

Under the City Charter, all contracts over 10 years must be approved by the Board of Supervisors.

But police officials said they were also planning to work with the Police Commission to update guidelines on investigating First Amendment activities, a department general order that came into question around the task force investigations, as well as other general orders regarding immigration issues.

“We are committed to community policing,” Deputy Chief Michael Redmond said at Wednesday’s Police Commission meeting. “We want to work collaboratively with the stakeholders when the work begins on the general orders.”

Advocates applauded Redmond’s announcement at the Police Commission meeting. Many spoke in favor of the suspension, with police watchdog John Crew, a former American Civil Liberties Union attorney, calling it “the right move.”

Christina Sinha, an attorney in the Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus national security and civil rights program, said that while she was “very happy” at the news, “I also recognize that does not preclude SFPD from rejoining.” She beseeched the Police Department to end all involvement with the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Wednesday’s eventful hearing was new Chief William Scott’s first Police Commission meeting. While he had little to say about the announcement, he said the move will have little impact on public safety.

“I just want to ensure the public that we are committed to public safety,” Scott said, “and we are going to do everything in our power to protect the public.”

Vivian Ho is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: vho@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @VivianHo


One thought on “SFPD to suspend collaboration with FBI counterterrorism program

  1. According to their own laws and their own court judgements, all of these governors, mayors, State reps, councilmen and police, they are now felons. Trump should send the US marshals to arrest them, throw them in jail, try them, convict them and put them in prison for the maximum sentence.

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