Muslim officer who complained about racism, misconduct alleging retaliation

A San Francisco police officer said April 10 he is being targeted and retaliated against for filing a complaint last year against other officers in which he claimed racial and religious discrimination.

The San Francisco Public Defender’s Office announced that the officer, who’s not being named, initially made the complaint because in addition to being harassed for being of Afghan descent and Muslim, he also witnessed several incidents of racism and homophobia at the hands of officers at the city’s Central Station.

According to an Equality Employment Opportunity complaint filed in January with the city’s Department of Human Resources, the officer said that he started working for the Police Department in 2016 and in June 2017 was assigned to the Central Station in the city’s North Beach neighborhood.

In the complaint, the officer described several incidents of misconduct and harassment by other officers, including an instance when other on-duty officers took him to a Broadway strip club to purposefully embarrass him. He also claimed to endure repeated accusations of his family being terrorists and of him having bombs or weapons.

In addition, the officer said another officer once called him a “sand ni****” about four times and on another occasion, someone vandalized his locker at Central Station, writing a flag with the word “ISIS” on it and the words “go back” underneath.

The officer also said in the complaint that he witnessed other officers use the word “fa****” several times and on one night, an officer confessed to him that he would only pull over drivers because they were black and Hispanic and figure out a probable cause afterward. Later that night, the same officer allegedly referred to a black driver as a “monkey.”

After filing a complaint with the department’s Internal Affairs division in November, against the advice of his superiors, the officer said he was moved to the Richmond Station.

However, after growing tired with the unit’s inaction, the officer went to the city’s human resources department where he filed the EEO complaint, which was made public April 10. The officer is alleging that details of his initial complaint with the Internal Affairs unit were not kept confidential and led to him being retaliated against.

“Since making my complaint, I have been labeled a rat, singled out by my colleagues, and I now fear for my safety,” the officer said. “Last week, it was brought to my attention that IA shared confidential information about me and their investigation with those I accused of harassment. I am truly ashamed of them. They have dishonored every principle and ethics the Police Department stands for.”

According to Public Defender Jeff Adachi, the officer has not filed a suit with the Police Department and is more interested in seeing change within the department.

“This is not about money, this about wanting to improve the department,” Adachi said.

The officer said he has no plans to leave the department and is requesting that officers receive cultural sensitivity education and training, and that the police academy update its curriculum to include Middle Eastern cultural studies along with existing African America, Latino and LGBT cultural studies.

The officer, who is still on his probationary period, is choosing to remain anonymous since he plans to stay with the department for years to come. The officer said he has wanted to be a San Francisco police officer since he was 8 years old, after an officer helped his family when they first arrived at San Francisco International Airport from Afghanistan.

“This comes at a time when there is increasing scrutiny on the Police Department, following the racist text messages, following (the U.S.) Department of Justice’s COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) program coming in, and the so-called reforms that were supposedly implemented to ensure that this doesn’t happen,” Adachi said.

The April 10 allegations come against a backdrop of several other alleged incidents involving misconduct, including two separate racist and homophobic text message scandals in 2015 and 2016.

In 2017, Officer Joel Babbs claimed he was being retaliated against for complaining of harassment and discrimination within the department, after he was arrested and charged with using false vehicle registration stickers and filing a false police report, both misdemeanors.

According to the San Francisco Police Department, it learned of the allegations in November and immediately began an investigation into them. Currently, there are three ongoing investigations into the incidents being conducted by both SFPD and the city’s human resources department.

SFPD said that within the last three years, it has implemented a number of measures that ensure that all members of the public and the department are treated with dignity and respect.

“The department has instituted implicit bias and procedural justice training for all sworn and civilian members; implemented best practices recommendations from the U.S. Department of Justice; instituted electronic audits of communications; entered into agreements with academic partners to analyze vehicle stops and the use of force; and launched the Not-On-My-Watch campaign to promote improved relations between officers and the public,” SFPD said in a statement.

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