Our history

In March 2019, Sheriff Vicki Hennessy asked DPA Director Paul Henderson to investigate allegations of unnecessary force and inappropriate female inmate strip searches against sheriff deputies. The DPA accepted approximately 19 cases from late 2018. In the weeks and months following this partnership, the DPA investigated a total of 36 complaints of serious misconduct.

The allegations of deputy misconduct occurring in the jails were initially brought to the Sheriff’s attention in January 2019 by the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office. The San Francisco Examiner and San Francisco Chronicle published reports soon thereafter. In March, Sheriff Hennessy addressed the allegations and her decision to turn the cases over to the DPA in the San Francisco Chronicle, Open Forum, “Even when law enforcement does a good job of investigating itself, many members of the public still feel they can’t trust the results of the investigation. By turning over these cases to the Department of Police Accountability, I’m taking a big step toward ensuring trust and transparency in my agency.”

Training and Scope of Work

Cases were assigned to four investigators and an attorney at the DPA. Assigned investigators learned SFSD policy, procedure, record keeping, specialized terms, jail operations, and other information unique to the SFSD. They toured all county jails managed by the SFSD and observed deputies conduct jail operations. The unit attended many of the SFSD CORE classes and met with SFSD Internal Affairs Unit staff regularly to ask questions, accept additional cases, and request and receive records and video. The unit also created original templates for (1) records requests, (2) notices to appear, and (3) case summary reports. 

Allegations and Findings

The allegations brought against deputies by the DPA fell under three general categories as defined by SFSD 03-01: Neglect of Duty, Unacceptable Job Performance, and Misconduct. Neglect of Duty allegations included conduct such as failing to document inmate discipline. Unacceptable Job Performance was brought to allege the failure to supervise. Misconduct allegations included conduct such as unnecessary use of force or inappropriate behavior. At the conclusion of these early investigations, the DPA submitted the case summary reports to the SFSD without recommended findings. The Undersheriff made the final determination based on the evidence and disposed each allegation with one of the following findings: Unfounded, Exonerated, Not Sustained, Sustained, or No Finding. 

Our mission

The mission of the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department Oversight Board (SDOB) is to provide independent, impartial, and diligent oversight of the Sheriff’s Department now known as the Sheriff’s Office. SDOB is committed to fostering a transparent, accountable, and responsive Sheriff’s Office through the Office of the Inspector General in community engagement and public reporting that includes and values all communities collectively served.