Frequently Asked Questions

How long has the OCC been in existence?
The OCC first became staffed and began its operations in 1983.

What caused the OCC to be established?
The OCC was created by a majority vote on a local ballot measure.

How does the OCC fit together with the Police Commission structurally?
The OCC is a civilian-staffed local governmental agency. The Police Commission is a volunteer civilian body of seven (7) members, four (4) members nominated by the Mayor and three (3) members nominated by the Board of Supervisors. Each member must be confirmed by a majority of the Board of Supervisors. The Police Commission appoints the Director of the OCC, subject to approval by the Mayor and Board of Supervisors; the Police Commission holds the power to terminate the services of the OCC's Director. The Director of the OCC reports to the Police Commission at its weekly meetings. By Charter, the Police Commission holds the power to manage, organize and reorganize the OCC. In practice, these powers generally are exercised by the Police Commission through the OCC Director.

How does the OCC fit together with the Police Commission functionally?
The OCC receives, investigates and makes findings on civilian complaints of on-duty misconduct (including acts and omissions) by sworn members of the San Francisco Police Department. Where the OCC sustains one or more allegations against one or more officers in a given case, the case can either go to the Chief of Police or to the Police Commission. The factors governing whether the Police Commission hears a case that has been sustained by the OCC include: severity of misconduct and of potential discipline; complexity of issues presented; degree of public interest in the matter; OCC recommendation to the Chief of Police as to forum (Chief or Commission). The Chief of Police either refers the case to the Commission, or hears it directly. The Chief of Police has disciplinary power to issue a 10-day suspension, or less; the Commission holds all greater disciplinary power, including the power to hear appeals from the Chief's disciplinary decisions. Both the Chief and the OCC (after conferring with the Chief) may file charges of officer misconduct with the Commission.

What is the size and composition of the OCC staff?
As of February 1, 2009: There are thirty-five budgeted positions in the Office of Citizen Complaints, including a director, a chief investigator, three (3) senior investigators and seventeen (17) line investigators. The OCC legal staff consists of four (4) attorneys, including two trial attorneys, a policy analyst and a mediation/outreach coordinator. Support staff totaling nine (9) positions includes clerical, accounting, and information technology personnel.

What if I speak a language other than English?
The Office of Citizen Complaints has staff who speak a variety of languages including Spanish, Tagalog, Russian, Mandarin, Cantonese and Burmese. If you speak a language other than those languages spoken by OCC staff, they will provide an interpreter free of charge.

What procedures apply to the handling of misconduct charges against a police officer?
Consistent with the Peace Officers' Bill of Rights, officers accused by OCC complaints receive notice of allegations against them, an opportunity to be heard by the OCC and to be represented during the investigative process, and notice of the outcome of the OCC's process. Officers are required by local law to appear upon written notice from the OCC, which order is enforced, if they fail without sufficient cause to appear, by means of appropriate discipline. Officers are served with written charges where a case is sustained by the OCC, and officers are provided with hearings by either the Chief or the Commission (see above).

What kinds of police misconduct complaints does the OCC receive and investigate?
By City Charter, the OCC is obliged to take every complaint of alleged police misconduct or improper performance made by a member of the public, where the complaint involves one or more SF Police Department sworn members engaged on-duty. All complaints are investigated unless they show proper conduct on the face of the allegations, and those outside OCC's jurisdiction which are forwarded to proper authorities.