Jesse Ventura got it right when he said that you can’t legislate morality–nor can you legislate values, culture, or attitudes. But it looks like that is exactly what the City of San Francisco is planning on doing as it considers legislating community policing.
A story in yesterday’s San Francisco Examiner says legislation has been introduced that would make community policing part of the City code. The legislation is the initiative of Supervisor David Campos who says the police department has to improve its community policing.
According to the article, the legislation spells out tactics and strategies to be used by the City’s force to bring it closer to the communities it serves. Among other things, it calls for community training for officers, “two-way communication” through newsletters or other “social network tools” between police stations and the community.
Those tactics make perfect sense. What doesn’t make sense, is that it should take legislation to get the San Francisco PD to integrate them in their operations.
Community policing is more about police culture, values and attitudes than it is about tactics. By codifying how the police should interact with San Franciscans Supervisor Campos has highlighted a leadership and culture problem within the force; he has done nothing to fix it.