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Supes reseat DeJesus on police panel

by Seth Hemmelgarn

Police Commissioner Petra DeJesus.<br>Photo: Rick Gerharter
Police Commissioner Petra DeJesus.
Photo: Rick Gerharter  

Lesbian San Francisco Police Commissioner Petra DeJesus is set to rejoin the police oversight panel after the Board of Supervisors voted 8-1 Tuesday to approve her for another term.

DeJesus, who first joined the commission in 2005, had faced competition by labor leader Olga Miranda, but Miranda, who's president of Service Employees International Union Local 87, withdrew her application after allegations emerged that she'd verbally and physically abused people. Many had also criticized her for only recently moving to the city.

Supervisor Ahsha Safai, who'd strongly backed Miranda, was the sole vote against DeJesus at the June 20 meeting. Supervisors Jane Kim and Mark Farrell were absent.

In a message to the Bay Area Reporter, DeJesus said she's "honored" to be reappointed.

"It's been a long uphill battle to get back on, but I'm just glad that in the end it's worked out the way it has," she said.

In a phone interview in May, when the supervisors' rules committee was going to vote on the matter, DeJesus, who was supported by the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, among other groups, said she wanted to remain on the commission in part because of all the effort she and others have put into reforming the police department.

"I'd like to see it through," she said. "I've done a lot of hard work on this commission."

Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, a member of the rules committee, told the B.A.R. last month that she backed DeJesus.

"Petra DeJesus has a proven track record of holding the police department to a higher standard of transparency and accountability, asking the hard questions and yet tempering it with compassion and respect for those who are doing the hard work of policing. To replace her with someone with less experience is doing a disservice to [the] impacted communities," said Fewer, whose husband is a retired police officer.

Gay District 8 Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, who at first did not take a position, also came out in support of DeJesus in May, effectively ensuring that she had the votes.

Her police commission seat has been empty since April 30, when her most recent term expired. DeJesus' supporters have said that her efforts are critical to reforming the city's police department, which has been beset in recent years by racist and homophobic text messaging scandals and questions over officer-involved shootings. New Police Chief William Scott took over in late January.

DeJesus' new term expires April 30, 2021.

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