Last week, we wrote about San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón’s denial of our Public Records Act request for a decade’s worth of DA’s clearance letters of officer-involved shootings. Clearance letters are the document issued by many district attorney offices when they clear an officer of criminal wrongdoing in the shooting of a civilian.
David Onek, a former San Francisco Police Commissioner who is running for District Attorney next Fall, wrote about Gascón’s denial of our records request this morning for the political blog Calitics. Here’s an excerpt from Onek’s entry:
“As a former Police Commissioner, I have been briefed in closed session on the details of officer-involved shootings. But the public knows very little about these incidents. My fellow Commissioners and I often heard complaints from community members about how little public information was released about officer-involved shootings. This lack of transparency breeds distrust.
In all officer-involved shootings, the DA’s office conducts an independent review to determine if there is criminal liability. If such liability is found, the DA presses charges, which are public. But when the DA determines that there is no liability, it is equally important that the DA publicly explain the reasons for its decision.”
I gave Onek a ring to clarify his stance on the letter. He said the biggest point at issue is trust in the police department. “A lot of people in the community don’t trust police,” Onek said. “Transparency is the key to building public trust and public trust is the key to making every community safer.”
The San Francisco Bay Guardian has also taken up the matter in a blog post by Sarah Phelan this afternoon, while San Francisco Examiner reporter Brent Begin also wrote on the growing flap over clearance letters.