Smile for the Camera

The story broke within the past couple of days about a video made by members of the San Francisco Police Department. The video, as explained by the film’s creator, was supposed to be a joke and the joke “spun way out of control”. Others explain the video as being racist, sexist and homophobic. The San Francisco Mayor, Gavin Newsom stated “Enough is enough” and Heather Fong, Chief of Police, proclaimed it to be a “dark day” in the history of the San Francisco Police Department.

The discussion is now underway. Newspaper pundits are ballying back and forth about whether San Francisco can take a joke or if it needs an education in cultural diversity. The country is either shocked by the insensitivity of the SFPD or annoyed with San Francisco for being too politically correct. Some are pissed off that officers are suspended when the department is short staffed and murders are hitting a record high and others think that suspension of the involved officers is too harsh. And some are just pragmatic about the whole thing.

The reality of this situation is that the officers who participated in the making of this video did so on city time, using city resources, including uniforms, equipment and personnel. And even though I don’t have a copy of the SFPD employee handbook, various subject matters addressed in the video (female officers posing as Charlie’s Angels, an officer in drag grabbing his breast, a series of suggestive tongue rolling and “Oh Captain’s” directed at a Captain who claims to have not known anything about the video) would violate most companies’ conduct and harassment policies.

No matter what the public has to say about the situation, the Department had to take action, and it seems the decision of suspension was appropriate. It does make it hard on SF (I know, I’m a resident) but suspension for violations like these is not an unknown thing in any business.

It sounds like a little training needs to get done, hmmm? After all, aren’t the actions of the subordinates ultimately the responsibility of the leader, Chief Fong?