SAN FRANCISCO --The U.S. Department of Justice is going to investigate the San Francisco police force. That decision is the result of a request by Mayor Ed Lee in the aftermath of the questionable police shooting of Mario Woods, who lived in the city's Bayview District.
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The review will be done by the DOJ's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS, which promotes improvements to officers' ties with communities. The group will review San Francisco police training and practices.
"The review will examine whether racial and ethnic disparities exist with respect to enforcement actions taken and not taken by the San Francisco Police Department," said acting U.S. Attorney Brian Stretch.
The mayor had asked for a federal investigation following the death of knifing suspect Mario Woods, who died in a barrage of gunfire on December 2, 2015. The incident was caught on camera and has ignited a firestorm of anger and protests.
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Former East Palo Alto Police Chief Ron Davis now heads the DOJ's COPS program.
"This is about building trust and confidence in this community," he said.
Lee has promised complete cooperation and transparency.
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"We will allow ourselves to be exposed by way of practices that we have and practices we should end and those we should adopt," he said.
Police Chief Greg Suhr echoed the mayor's sentiment.
"It's a work in progress we've already undertaken," said Suhr. "We look forward to this review."
Attorney John Burris represents Mario Woods' family.
"It only really means that it's an opportunity for the mayor and the police chief to step up to the plate and show good faith activity that they really want to improve the police department," he said.
The DOJ review will most likely take more than a year. If their final recommendations are not accepted by San Francisco police, the department can launch a separate civil rights probe, which would result in court mandated changes.
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