Community Police Advisory Board (CPAB)

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By Bruce Wolfe, HANC President

San Francisco enjoys its community participation in government and community services by creating a plethora of advisory bodies. Almost every commission has one and so do many programmatic services. In fact, many SF Police Department districts have community meetings to voice their neighborhood concerns to the stations. Here at Park Station they meet every third Monday of the month from 5:00-6:00pm.

Perhaps you have heard this acronym before, CPAB. What is it? Who is on it? What does it do? What do they discuss? Community Police Advisory Boards or CPAB in San Francisco were created by then SF Police Department Chief George Gascon modeled after others around the country as a way for the community to chime in directly with various sections of the department. Here in SF, they were designed to advise the captains of each of the ten districts.

Each CPAB worked somewhat the same but had different rules of operation. But, they also met under somewhat of a semi-closed door. In other words, their meetings weren't exactly advertised well or at all to the public.

Basically, the members of the CPAB were chosen by the captains, mostly, a mix of residents, merchants, neighborhood groups and advocates. Frequently, these were folks whom are not high profile or active in the community.

The work is to provide some community feedback to the captains on various topics they present, but also the CPAB members express questions and concerns about law enforcement operations, policy implementations, events planning, etc. Some subjects include on-street patrols, treatment and procedures on homeless people, car break-ins, traffic enforcement, etc.

Recently, all CPAB's leadership has been meeting to reorganize citywide under one uniform set of bylaws or rules because of how they were created, and who they advise and report to under the City's Sunshine Ordinance. There is also some talk that CPAB members would have to undergo background checks. This procedure is usually reserved for specific applications like gaining access,  or creating agents or special status for specific law enforcement purposes. Not knowing exactly what information is being discussed in CPABs leaves one to wonder why this will be necessary. It could also create a barrier of civic participation that should be open to all.

HANC's president, Bruce Wolfe, is the most recent member of to be welcomed to the Park Station CPAB. It usually meets the third Monday of the month from 6:00-7:00pm.


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