Gascon launches task force to investigate alleged law enforcement misconduct 

District Attorney George Gascon Monday morning announced the formation of a task force to investigate misdeeds by The City's law enforcement. - MIKE KOOZMIN/SF EXAMINER
  • Mike Koozmin/SF Examiner
  • District Attorney George Gascon Monday morning announced the formation of a task force to investigate misdeeds by The City's law enforcement.
San Francisco law enforcement — battered already by several scandals this year — took another blow Monday.

But this one came from District Attorney George Gascon, who announced the formation of a task force to investigate alleged misdeeds by The City’s law enforcement.

Gascon’s task force, which will look into everything from racist text messages sent by police officers to fights allegedly staged in the county jail and now issues in the crime lab, was characterized as an unusual step at a news conference Monday.

But others said it looked more like bluster from an office too closely tied to the very agencies it means to investigate.

“A task force could be a good idea but the DA’s Office is entwined with many of the systemic issues that implicate the police and sheriff departments ...” Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi told The San Francisco Examiner. “Rather, a true independent task force would not be burdened by potential conflicts.”

Public Defender Jeff Adachi is glad something is being done, but agreed with the sheriff.

“I don’t like the idea of the DA investigating law enforcement,” Adachi said.

Police Chief Greg Suhr welcomed the inquiries, saying he learned of them Monday. Suhr said his department is open and transparent, but he expects little to be found by the inquiry.

“I am confident of the work product and character of 99.9 percent of my officers,” said Suhr, noting recent exceptions which all shall be dealt with.

The DA’s task force, which had no official number of members or time frame for their work, plans to look into three areas:

Racist texts sent by a group of police officers in and around 2011 came to light in March as part of the trial of former Officer Ian Furminger. A filing showed at least four other officers sent racist and homophobic text messages to one another. One of those officers has since resigned. Suhr expects the department’s investigation to be complete later this Last week, a Public Defender’s Office investigation found four deputies had allegedly been staging fights between prisoners in County Jail. The four officers have since been transferred and are under investigation. The department has asked the U.S. attorney and the attorney general to investigate the incident.

Recent revelations have surfaced around a San Francisco police crime lab criminalist, Mignon Dunbar, who in 2014 failed to do her job testing DNA correctly, but the errors were not discovered by her supervisor. The pair — under investigation — have been on personal leave for months now, Suhr said. A memo from September released Monday revealed that even a test of Dunbar’s ability, which she failed, was not enough for her superior to dismiss her.

About The Author

Jonah Owen Lamb

Jonah Owen Lamb

Born and raised on a houseboat in Sausalito, Lamb has written for newspapers in New York City, Utah and the San Joaquin Valley. He was most recently an editor at the San Luis Obispo Tribune for nearly three years. He has written for The S.F. Examiner since 2013 and covers criminal justice and planning.
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