SF Interim Police Chief Jeff Godown

I thought it was worth posting the audio of San Francisco Interim Police Chief Jeff Godown’s defense of the police department coupled with his fit of pique at Public Defender Jeff Adachi, from his press conference yesterday.

Of course, the Public Defender and the Chief of Police will by definition be in conflict in any legal system, but Godown’s briefing was interesting because it represented the first real pushback from law enforcement in regard to the ongoing video scandal that has resulted in dozens of cases being dropped or dismissed.

The chief spoke in response to the release of an apartment building security video showing plainclothes police entering a Richmond-district building on the way to make  a drug arrest. The video spurred a judge to throw out the case in court. Adachi revealed the video in conjunction with the suspect’s lawyer yesterday.

The video comes on top of a recent scandal involving hotel security videos, resulting in the dropping or dismissal of dozens of cases due to discrepancies between what was shown on tape and what officers reported in official accounts of the arrests. The legal issues involved concern proper use of warrants, and in the most recent case, the officers’ failure to show their badges.

The original spate of cases resulted in the reassignment of a squad of eight detectives to administrative duties, and an FBI investigation, still under way.

But yesterday’s video revelation produced a quite different response from police in the person of Godown: a passionate defense of the department, bewilderment that the case was thrown out of court, and some pointed criticism of Adachi, who has broadly publicized the entire slate of videos and the dismissals.

Some quotes from Godown yesterday:

  • “I’m troubled and kind of perplexed why an elected official in this city, namely Jeff Adachi, continues to paint the San Francisco police department with a wide brush in reference to constant rampant misconduct among the plainclothes units in this city, and that is untrue.”
  • “I have men and women who come to work every day…they have to get blasted every Wednesday night at police commission in reference to how much money they make and what their pension system is comprised of. But every day they come to work and answer 911 calls and put their life on the line to keep this city safe…”
  • “Every time Jeff Adachi decides to have a press conference and he screams that the sky is falling, I’m going to call you in this room and we’re going to push back every time. If there’ allegations of misconduct, we’ll look at them…but in this case, every single time there’s a videotape, they claim the SFPD is not conducting investigations correctly, and that we’re being painted with this broad brush of there’s rampant misconduct, and that’s just not the case.”
  • “I’m very disappointed by (Adachi’s) attitude. If he has allegations that this has been going on for years then bring it to my attention…but you can’t continue to scream the sky is falling when it’s not.”
  • “I am not going to sit back and let people bad-mouth this dept and throw down allegations of misconduct when they’re not true. “

The Informant has reaction to Godown’s press conference from the Public Defender’s Office:

In response to Godown, Adachi issued a terse statement this afternoon that claimed SFPD has “systematic problems” with illegal searches and falsified police reporters. Adachi urged Godown to read the police report as well as the court transcript instead of instinctively backing up his officers. “Chief Godown is relatively new and must come to terms that there is a crisis on his hands,” Adachi’s statement reads. “The people of San Francisco deserve solutions, not denials.”

Matt Gonzales, the chief attorney for the Public Defender’s office, was troubled at about Chief Godown’s remarks on the propriety of the Richmond District incident and arrest:

“The video clearly revealed that officers lied under oath. It was shown to a judge who agreed, dismissing the case because police were not credible. It is troubling to me that our chief of police can watch the same footage and see nothing wrong with these civil rights violations.”

Jeff Godown press conference Part 1[audio:http://ww2.kqed.org/news/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2011/04/GodownPresser1.mp3]

Jeff Godown press conference Part 2[audio:http://ww2.kqed.org/news/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2011/04/GodownPresser2.mp3]

Audio: SF Chief Jeff Godown Slams Public Defender Jeff Adachi at Press Conference 1 April,2011Jon Brooks


Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks is the host and editor of KQED’s health and technology blog, Future of You. He is the former editor of KQED’s daily news blog, News Fix. A veteran blogger, he previously worked for Yahoo! in various news writing and editing roles. He was also the editor of EconomyBeat.org, which documented user-generated content about the financial crisis and recession. Jon is also a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S. He has written about film for his own blog and studied film at Boston University. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College.

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