Policy Recommendation - 06.19.03

Subject:  Policy and Training Recommendations Concerning SFPD Interactions with Transgender Individuals

Recommendation:  The Office of Citizen Complaints recommends that the San Francisco Police Department:

1.) Implement as soon as possible the fifteen (15) recommendations developed by the SFPD/Transgender Community Task Force.  Because of continuing OCC complaints concerning interactions between transgender individuals and SFPD, it is especially imperative that roll call training and Task Force-suggested Department Bulletins be issued immediately.

2.) Establish a record keeping system for each roll call training that indicates the time, date, member attendance, topic and materials used for the training.  (E.g. informational hand-outs or a video presentation shall be preserved from each roll call training.) Such records shall be accessible to the OCC in the course of investigation.  The OCC shall be included in the distribution list that announces upcoming roll call trainings.  (Also see Fourth Quarter 2002 OCC Policy Recommendation concerning Roll Call Training and Reissuance of Department Bulletin Concerning Service Animals and Written Protocol on Issuance and Reissuance of Department Bulletins.)

Case Background:

Complainant, a self-identified transgender woman, was booked as a male.  Complainant felt that the officer’s language and attitude toward her were disrespectful of her gender identity.  Based on this complaint, the OCC presented to the San Francisco Police Commission policy and training recommendations. On August 1, 2001, the San Francisco Police Commission unanimously adopted Resolution #55-01 which recommended that the Department 1) augment training for both new recruits and experienced officers to provide guidance as to culturally competent language and behavior in the questioning and other treatment of persons who identify, or who are identified by officers, as transgender individuals; 2) invite appropriate personnel from the City’s Human Rights Commission, Community United Against Violence (CUAV) and other expert institutions to participate in training SFPD sworn personnel, pursuant to the above; and 3) standardize documentation as to transgender individuals in incident reports and other SFPD forms, to include, among other items, complete documentation for persons who use various (e.g. male and female) aliases. 

In response to Resolution #55-01, the SFPD/TG Community Task Force (hereinafter Task Force) convened in January 2002 and met throughout the next year and a half to develop protocols and training materials.  In April 2003, the Task Force proposed to the Department a 15-point plan that includes roll call trainings, “A” Priority Department Bulletins, increased recruit and advanced officer training, and revisions to particular General Orders.  The Department is currently reviewing these proposals.   

In addition to the original complaint that gave rise to Police Commission Resolution 55-01, the OCC received two subsequent complaints involving transgender individuals. In one case, an officer who had responded to a dog complaint continued to address the complainant as “Sir” despite repeated corrections on her part that she was not a “sir” and should be addressed as “ma’am.”  In another case involving a traffic stop, although the driver presented a valid driver’s license that indicated she was female, the officer repeatedly questioned her gender, including asking her about what surgeries she had undergone.              

While attempting to verify officers’ attendance at roll call training on other topics, the OCC has found that the Department does not have a uniform policy to document the time, date, member attendance and materials used during roll call trainings.  Such documentation is necessary to enforce compliance and evaluate roll call training effectiveness.

Investigated by: Jessica Cole and Karol Heppe
Prepared by: SAMARA MARION, Senior Attorney
Approved by: KEVIN ALLEN, Director
Date: June 19, 2003