Policy Recommendation 06.23.03

Subject:  Prompt and Appropriate Medical Treatment for Juvenile and Adult Detainees

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

1.) Amend the Department’s Booking and Detention Manual and Department General Order 1.05 (D) (Duties of the Station Keeper) to require the Department to provide prompt and appropriate medical treatment to detainees (both adult and juvenile) to the same degree that the Department is required to provide prompt and appropriate medical treatment to arrestees.

2.) Augment Policy Academy and roll call training to conform to this change in policy.

Case Background:

When a juvenile complainant was taken into police custody, he suffered a 1.5 cm laceration to his lip that required suturing.  Evidence of significant bleeding from this laceration was apparent at the scene, during transport and at the station.   Although paramedics at the station evaluated the juvenile as requiring non-emergency transport to the hospital for further treatment, officers released the juvenile to his parent at the station without informing the parent of the paramedics’ recommendation and assessment and without determining whether the juvenile could obtain transportation to the hospital.

Station keepers are responsible for the custody of prisoners at the district station.  It requires that station keepers ensure that injured or ill prisoners are medically cleared before booking.  Only a physician or Jail Medical Services personnel at County Jail #1 can provide medical clearance for injured or ill prisoners. The Booking and Detention Manual further provides that seriously ill or injured prisoners must be transported by ambulance to a medical facility.  Officers must transport prisoners with minor injuries or illness to a medical facility.  (See San Francisco Police Department Booking and Detention Manual, DM-12 (March 2000) pp. 9-11.).   

The Booking and Detention Manual outlines the Station Keeper’s  responsibilities to “prisoners” - individuals who are presumably arrested, booked and subsequently transported to the County Jail.  The Booking and Detention Manual is silent as to the Station Keeper’s responsibilities toward “detainees” - individuals who are arrested and/or detained, brought to the district station but then released from the district station without further incarceration.  The Department is both criminally and civilly liable for a detainee within its custody no matter how short the duration. Thus, the Booking and Detention Manual and Department General Order 1.05 (D) which outlines the duties of the Station Keeper should clearly outline the responsibilities that the Station Keeper and thus, the Department has towards its detainees - both juvenile and adult.

Investigated by: David Aulet
Prepared by: SAMARA MARION, Senior Attorney
Approved by: KEVIN ALLEN, Director
Date: June 23, 2003