The Integrity Unit of the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office helped lead the Coalition to End Biased Stops—which includes over 110 traffic safety and civil rights organizations—with the goal of reducing racial disparities and harms caused by “pretext” traffic stops. Pretext stops occur when police use a minor traffic or vehicle code violation as an excuse to stop a person to search them, the occupants of a car, or the car itself. These types of stops disproportionately target Black drivers and other people of color and subject them to needless searches, harassment, and use-of-force. The Coalition’s advocacy led the San Francisco Police Commission to conduct a thorough community outreach campaign and coordinate with SFPD leadership before passing the most comprehensive pretext stop reform in the California.

As of July 17, 2024, SFPD officers must follow a new policy limiting the types of traffic stops they can use at the primary reason for pulling over a driver, cyclist, or pedestrian. Learn more about your rights under the policy here.

What is CopMonitor SF?

CopMonitor is an award-winning collection of records about local police for the general public, the families of victims of police violence, activists, civil rights advocates, defense attorneys, public officials, and journalists. It is a byproduct of the San Francisco Public Defender’s core function to zealously defend indigent community members criminally charged in San Francisco.

What is in CopMonitor?

This database contains the following categories of information released under the California Public Records Act (learn more here):

  • When a cop shoots a firearm at a person or uses force against a person, causing great bodily injury or death;
  • When a cop has a “sustained allegation” of any of the following:
    • sexual assault;
    • dishonesty;
    • unreasonable or excessive force;
    • failing to intervene against another officer using clearly unreasonable or excessive force;
    • prejudice or discrimination; and
    • conducting unlawful arrest or an unlawful search.

Additionally, CopMonitor contains the following additional information;

  • Media coverage about a cop or an incident reported in the news involving specific cops;
  • Civil lawsuits filed against a cop;
  • Records of a cop being arrested, prosecuted, or convicted in criminal court; and
  • Misconduct complaints and related findings made about a cop to the Department of Police Accountability.

If you believe we have missed something that should be included in CopMonitor, please email the Integrity Unit at PUBDEF-CopMonitor@sfgov.org.

Why did the SF Public Defender create CopMonitor?

Until 2019, California shielded police personnel records from public disclosure, including all misconduct and disciplinary records, leading the ACLU to rank California as “the most secretive state in the country.” We began this database to make the records we found and received accessible for our trial teams. Because we strongly believe that the public has a right to know who polices them, we expanded access to the public.

Enter the CopMonitor Database here.