SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco police officers are being asked to combat racism in the ranks and take a pledge to turn in colleagues displaying intolerant behavior, such as slurs and jokes targeting people of color, LGBT people and women.
The pledge is part of a broader public relations campaign by the embattled police department to repair frayed relations with minority neighborhoods and community activists.
The campaign comes amid growing tensions between police and black communities that are shaking up departments across the country and have led to the dismissal of top brass in some cities, including Chicago. Politically progressive San Francisco is not immune from the unrest. The Dec. 2 shooting of a young black man clutching a kitchen knife by five officers has increased racial tensions and sparked calls for the police chief’s removal.
So far, San Francisco’s mayor has stood behind the chief amid the emergence of racist text messages exchanged among several officers and a judge’s decision that he failed to punish the officers in timely fashion.
Police say Mario Woods, 26, had stabbed a stranger earlier that day, ignored commands to drop the knife and shook off blasts of tear gas and shots from a bean bag gun before officers opened fire.
Police say only one of the five officers involved was white, but protests over the shooting persists. Mayor Ed Lee has asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate.