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SFPD officer smiling at man wearing cowboy hat

Bias-Free Policing

The San Francisco Police Department is committed to ensuring that our officers and civilian staff provide unbiased, quality service to the diverse communities we work for. Our goal is to provide accountability and fair and positive interactions between San Francisco officers and the people we are proud to serve.

General Orders

SFPD efforts to root identify and root out explicit and implicit bias are codified in Department General Order 5.17 (“Policy Prohibiting Biased Policing”). This DGO provides a definition of biased policing and explicitly explains the steps officers should take in order to provide impartial policing. All officers are responsible for knowing and complying with this policy.

Any department employee who becomes aware of biased policing or misconduct is required to report it in accordance with established procedure and SFPD’s own Not On My Watch pledge, which was created to guard against implicit biases.

Training

Implicit bias is defined as unconscious biases that affect a person’s actions, decisions or treatment of others. SFPD has developed implicit-bias training for the Basic Academy and as part of ongoing advanced professional training for current officers. While in the academy, recruits study topics that include policing in the community; Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) & discrimination/harassment; the City’s homeless community and the Civil Sidewalk Ordinance; transgender community; cultural competency; and hate crimes. Recruits and veteran officers also study racial profiling and interpersonal communications, in order to create and maintain strong and respectful relationships between officers and community members.

SFPD continues to implement the training required to institute a culture reflective of 21st Century Policing. San Francisco Police Department managers- including civilian employees- are trained every two years on managing implicit bias through the Fair and Impartial Policing course and an eight-hour training course titled “Creating an Inclusive Environment: Introduction to Managing Implicit Bias” presented by the San Francisco Department of Human Resources.

SFPD also conducts an eight-hour Principled Policing course that incorporates Procedural Justice and Implicit Bias training. This course was created to prepare all managers to lead their line officers with a clear perspective on creating and maintaining police legitimacy and understanding how biases become obstacles to assisting the community. The purpose of this training is for officers to understand the principles of Procedural Justice and incorporate them into their professional work environment. These principles include giving people a voice, fair treatment, respect, and providing a trustworthy process. Procedural Justice centers on the belief that when officers engage in fair and respectful treatment, the public is more likely to view their authority as legitimate.

SFPD also collaborates with external partners for training on inclusive leadership and bias; cultural diversity; community outreach; and Blue Courage, which focuses on developing a guardian mindset to serve the public. We believe this training builds better relationships with community members and promotes cooperation and support for an officer’s efforts to improve safety.

Audits

As part of SFPD’s commitment to detecting and eliminating bias, audits are performed on department-issued cellphones, email accounts and computers for biased language. All "hits" of potentially biased language are investigated. The Audit of Electronic Communication Devices for Bias is presented on a quarterly basis to the Police Commission and are available for viewing on our Published Reports page.