Date of Graduation

Summer 5-19-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Urban Affairs


College of Arts and Sciences


Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good

First Advisor

Tim Redmond

Second Advisor

Rachel Brahinsky


Since 2015, there have been 8 fatal shootings by the San Francisco Police Department and no officers have faced any administrative discipline. This paper works to demonstrate how the San Francisco Police Department escapes administrative discipline in situations of officer involved shootings (OIS) through the combination of flawed accountability procedures, state laws and government leaders who fail to push against these protective forces. My project will show how the combination of little authoritative power from the Department of Police Accountability and protective state laws in favor of police privacy complicate the investigation procedures that determine whether or not officers face accountability for their actions in officer involved shootings. Through understanding the history of policing and the legacy of discretionary practices in the San Francisco Police Department, we better understand why our civilian oversight agency’s implementation into San Francisco police culture has resulted in a non threatening oversight body that is operated on nonaggressive policies.

This project analyzes the 2016 police reform efforts that produced a recommendation report and two ballot measures that directly shape the Department of Police Accountability. My research shows how these new policies fail to combat the stronger policies and procedures in place that contribute to poor DPA officer involved shooting investigations, which typically result in un-sustained findings. I offer recommendations that directly address the laws and policies that allow these institutions to continue to release officers with no sustained findings that result in administrative charges. I will show how the policies pertaining to police accountability in San Francisco, although they appear strong on paper, and not upheld within the SFPD and thus perpetuate a police culture that allows officers to act with no threat of civilian monitoring.