SFPD created the Not On My Watch initiative in the spring of 2015 in an effort to improve relationships between police officers and the diverse communities they serve.
“This first-of-its-kind pledge is about recognizing that we need to guard against our own implicit biases,” said SFPD Chief Greg Suhr, “and to call out anyone who is intolerant or bigoted.”
Since 2011, SFPD policy has prohibited biased policing. The inspiration for the Not On My Watch project came from SFPD Sergeant Yulanda Williams, president of Officers for Justice. “It tells everyone that I am going to treat them with dignity and respect,” said Sgt. Williams. “And at the same time, we’re encouraging them to trust us, respect us and allow us to help them by delivering the type of police service that makes for viable, stable communities.”
Williams and retired officer Harry Soulette worked with police to begin creating a pledge that illustrates SFPD’s commitment to justice and unbiased policing. Soulette says he was dismayed to see increasing tension between the public and officers. “I wanted to reshape the image that the public has of the officer, from being an enforcer to being a guardian,” said Soulette. “I think it’s important that the community see us [as being] there to help.”
“We don’t want to let bigotry and intolerance fester,” said Chief Suhr. “By pledging ‘Not On My Watch,’ we remind ourselves of our commitment to unbiased policing and of our responsibilities to the people we are privileged to serve in this diverse city.”
SFPD has undertaken several additional initiatives to combat discrimination within the department. All San Francisco Police Academy recruits are now required to participate in implicit-bias training, and all officers will receive implicit-bias training and procedural justice training by the end of the year. Chief Suhr has established an African-American Community Advisory Forum to open and enhance channels of communication and improve the department’s practices. SFPD is also aggressively recruiting police officers from a variety of cultural backgrounds to ensure that the department is a diverse organization that reflects the city’s demographic makeup.