Children who misbehave, indeed 

  • S.F. Juvenile Probation Commission

Dear Supervisor John Avalos,

I watched your performance at the May 2 hearing of the Board of Supervisors Neighborhood Services and Safety Committee with amusement. I use the word “performance” because your eye-rolling, peacocking, disrespectful demeanor toward Chief Juvenile Probation Officer Bill Siffermann and Assistant Chief Allen Nance was not your usual style. Luckily, they are used to dealing with juveniles.

It’s clear that you were incensed at the proposal to allow a few members of the Juvenile Probation Department to carry guns. And you quite rightfully asked for more statistical data to support the notion that probation officers who deal with the most dangerous juveniles are actually facing more guns and violence now than ever before. A change in policy demands it, and the department promised to provide it.

But you went further than that, and you accused Siffermann and Nance of “using” me and my March 28 column on the subject to “promote this program” of arming six juvenile probation officers. You angrily accused Nance of engaging in “media advocacy.”

Now, you may want to sit down, John, because what I’m about to write may shock you: I reached out to them to ask about the program. I saw a letter from the Juvenile Probation Commission in the publicly available communications to the Board of Supervisors, went to the website of the Juvenile Probation Department to get the department phone number, then called and asked to speak to Siffermann, whom I had never met.  

Had you bothered to ask me, I would have explained all this.

I also would have explained that the picture you were “disgusted” by was taken from a PowerPoint presentation that Nance had given to the Juvenile Probation Commission and that I (all by myself!) found on the Internet. That’s why the caption on that picture of real juveniles with guns in a real place in San Francisco, where real officers have to go to enforce court orders, said “Courtesy of Allen Nance.” Instead you berated Nance for reaching out to me on the baseless assumption that it couldn’t possibly be the other way around.  

Perhaps in your world, women sit around and wait for the phone to ring, but in mine, every day is Sadie Hawkins Day — and every column is my own, including this one.

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Melissa Griffin

Melissa Griffin

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