Office of Citizen Complaints

Policy Recommendations

Reference OCC # 0763-98; Booking and Detention Manual

Subject: Access to Telephones for Detainees

The OCC recommends that the San Francisco Police Department provide telephone access to persons who are displaced by Department action and detained at a police facility.

General Background:
Current Department policy allows access to telephones within three (3) hours to persons who have been booked or arrested. However, persons detained at a police facility, who may need, for example, to arrange for dependent care and or transportation, do not receive this minor but important accomodation.

Case Background:
Complainant, a registered nurse, was witness to a vehicle collision that involved a woman and an infant. Complainant remained at the scene in order to offer assistance to injured persons and to provide information to responding officers. A paramedic rejected complainant's offer and shoved her aside physically which caused an altercation. An officer, mistakenly believing that complainant's agitated state was due to the influence of drugs or alcohol, ordered field sobriety tests which complainant could not complete to his satisfaction. Complainant was taken to a District Station where a breathalyzer test was conducted which indicated that complainant was not under the influence of alcohol. The detention ended at half past midnight. Complainant's request to use a telephone to arrange for transportation home was denied.

Prepared by:
River Ginchild Abeje
Policy and Outreach Specialist

Approved by:
Mary C. Dunlap

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