*(Via ReelUrbanNews) – In March (2018), Paul Henderson was confirmed as the new Executive Director of San Francisco’s Department of Police Accountability.
“The organization has been around since the ’80s,” Henderson told Reel Urban News. “It really is best practices in terms of police oversight and civilian oversight. We are an independent agency that receives, investigates and makes findings with the police department and with law enforcement about complaints and misconduct.”
The career public servant’s confirmation comes after three separate nominations by the Police Commission, appointment by the Mayor’s office and unanimous approval by the Board of Supervisors.
Proposition D and Proposition G are measures that expanded the powers of the Department of Police Accountability in 2016, giving the department the ability to audit the San Francisco Police Department and requiring investigations of all police shootings. Henderson acknowledges the advantages to the expansion.
“Voters and elected officials have continued to increase both the authority and jurisdiction of the agency and now is really an exciting time to be doing this work.”
Henderson, a native of San Francisco, is well qualified for his current executive role.
“I started off as an intern and worked my way up into being a law clerk, civil attorney and then a trial attorney,” Henderson explains. “I ultimately ended up serving as chief in the District Attorney’s Office of San Francisco, under then-elected District Attorney and now Senator, Kamala Harris. I was her chief for years.”
Henderson steps into his new position as executive director at a time when police departments around the nation have received an increase in public complaints that range from misconduct claims to excessive force.
“There has been a shift in recent years,” says Henderson. “I think a lot of the shift has been exacerbated by the news and media coverage for information now that we have body cameras, now that we have cell phones and now that we have broader conversation becoming more inclusive specifically of disenfranchised communities of color.”
Henderson came to the attention of Reel Urban News several years ago where he continues to provide on-air legal analysis for the cable news network MSNBC.
“I have been appearing on-air for about ten years. I was drawn to this work because I do think it’s really important that as we talk about issues that affect specifically disenfranchised communities we need to have a voice at the table.”
Prior to joining MSNBC, Henderson appeared on the conservative cable network Fox News Channel.
“One of the things that challenged me was when there were political things or when we talked about legal issues it was hard for me to remain silent because I knew what I wanted to see and hear on television.”
Unhappy with the coverage by news agencies and networks on issues that affect communities of color, Henderson turned to writing letters and posting on social media.
“I decided, let me see what I can do about it,” explained Henderson. “I was that guy who would write op-eds, I would send messages and tweets to agencies, asking why you didn’t cover this aspect of the story?”
In the final moments of his wide-ranging interview with Michael Reel of Reel Urban News, Henderson stressed the importance of African Americans continuing to tell our remarkable story.
“It’s absolutely critical,” says Henderson.
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