FROM: Faux San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr
TO: Mayor Ed Lee
RE: The future of policing in San Francisco
Mr. Mayor, and Mr. Brown:
As you know, last week an altercation broke out between members of the San Francisco Police Department ("SFPD") and San Francisco Citizens with Video Cameras ("Motherfucking Hippies") who live in the Valencia Gardens Public Housing Complex ("The Future Site of Valencia Gardens Executive Condominiums").
I've tried everything I can think of to pin this disaster on illegal immigrants, nudists, medicinal marijuana, Dan White, and the crying need for luxury housing along the waterfront. It's just not working. We need to face the issue head on.
The fact that poor people can now afford video cameras represents a significant challenge to police departments all across the country. It's a slippery slope: As my colleague, New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly recently told The New York Times, "Each video of police beating low-income Hispanics today could lead to not infiltrating mosques tomorrow."
Given that reality, the appearance of changes must be made.
First, we must take a hard line against the kind of criminal behavior that started this incident, whatever that was.
In this case the best we can do is "riding a bicycle on the sidewalk." It's not much, but we've made do with worse. Remember the time we swept all the homeless people off Market Street because they were playing chess? Because public chess is a gateway to drug deals?
We can make anything stick.
Riding a bicycle on the sidewalk -- as the suspect did -- is almost as dangerous as driving a car on the street. We can't have people doing that here while black. It leads to drug crime, reduces tourism, and drives business out of the city. It's just not in the public interest, by which I mean our attorney has said never to admit fault. That's the first thing they teach you in the academy.
I'm going to instruct my officers to beat up several other minorities for riding their bikes on the sidewalk, just to prove this is a thing.
But the real challenge is how to handle video cameras. As you know, I am on record as proposing to fight fire with fire, only figuratively this time: if the citizens have video cameras, the police need to have even more video cameras.
Since the NSA doesn't respond to my emails (I know they read them) I've decided to implement a simple system in San Francisco. Each officer will wear a camera. When they tap it, it will begin saving the footage beginning with the previous 30 seconds. This is a great way to make sure entire encounters are recorded.
A second tap on the camera will offer more than 100 filters that they can put on the video. It's a great way for officers to express themselves. Really get creative.
Maybe they want to harass an undocumented Central American and have it look all Gothic, like a vampire movie. Under this system, they can do that. Or harass college kids in classy black and white. Or supersaturate the color of planted evidence so that it really "pops." Some of these filters are incredible. There's one that actually makes the encounter look like an old Bugs Bunny cartoon: it's great for beating up homeless veterans. You can even add sounds effects.
A third tap will automatically post the video to the department's Facebook and Twitter feed, along with the officer's own social media accounts. You can never say what will go viral, but I think that if we all "like" and "retweet" the videos to our own friends and followers, we have a good chance of really hitting the big time. I'm talking UC Davis Pepper Spray cop here.
Looking ahead, once we have enough compelling videos I'd like to do an installation piece, possibly at Burning Man. Something that really announces us as a new voice with stories to tell. Maybe we could record a series of traffic stops on the Golden Gate Bridge -- that would be iconic.
The end game, of course, is a reality show on MTV. That's where the money is. We'll have to hustle to get there -- it's us verses every bro with a Twitter account. Also the Chicago PD has started a dance program that's putting on some really avant-garde productions. Daring use of lights. They're the competition.
But if we step up our game, we can do this. Video is our friend. It's what 21st century law enforcement's all about.
Also, we should start confiscating cell phones from anyone around a crime scene. Just as a matter of course. Can't be too careful.
Benjamin Wachs is a literary chameleon.