“When we’re talking about bias policing and racial profiling, there is a direct connection to these associations being made by officers,” Adachi said. “That’s the kind of mentality that tells you it’s OK to shoot, OK to kill, OK to arrest" people of color.
The department said the latest texts were uncovered during a department investigation into allegations that an officer had committed a sexual assault while off-duty. The officer, Jason Lai, has been charged with misdemeanor counts of unlawful access and use of criminal and motor vehicle databases.
In addition to the other slurs, Lai also used a derogatory term in Chinese to refer to black people and followed that up with a text message referring to them as “a pack of wild animals on the loose.”
“Anytime an officer presents him or herself to be this way, they will be gone,” Suhr said. “We will not have this in the San Francisco police force.”
Suhr pledged to have all officers undergo training for implicit bias -- the theory that they are unconsciously treating or viewing a certain population differently without realizing it. Adachi said that responsibility in changing the department’s culture starts with its officers, not its chief.
The texts were the second time an investigation has unearthed blatant racism among San Francisco police officers. A court filing by federal prosecutors last year revealed that 14 other officers had either sent or received text messages in previous years.
The previous scandal led to the dismissal of 13 pending criminal cases and a review of 3,000 more. Suhr tried to fire several of the 14 officers, but a judge ruled that the department had waited too long to discipline them. That ruling is now on appeal.
Adachi said Tuesday that the recent texts will require at least 207 criminal cases to be reviewed.
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