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Captain E. James 
Sergeant M. O'Shea
Sergeant R. Winters
Nick Gregoratos Angelica M. Almeida Phd
Chaplain Dan White Sr.
Vivian Imperiale
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© 2014
San Francisco
Sheriff's Department

Ross Mirkarimi

A Message from Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi


The Thanksgiving holiday reminds many in North America that we were strangers to this continent, escaping persecution and poverty, seeking freedom and hope for a better future.  These weary immigrants were initially welcomed and fed by their hosts, the Native Americans who were already living here. After years of inaction, prelude to this holiday, it's fitting that immigration reforms were announced by President Obama on November 20.
An important feature of this new reform aims at keeping parents and children together, despite the corrosive Secure Communities program, which became a misnomer to many immigrants. Those with papers and those without, feared reporting crimes or collaborating with law enforcement. Wholesale or random deportations divert resources better spent on removing those who actually pose a threat to our communities and country.
We made some news about our new pilot program to allow inmates in our Five Keys Charter High School and Reentry Pod programs access to secure computer tablets. SFSD is one of the first county jails in the country to introduce computer tablets both into the classroom and living quarters - and we understand the range of challenges this poses.  Basic computer skills and internet familiarity are crucial to bridging the digital divide. These tablets are connected to a secure network that will provide educational programs and both a law and recreational library. 


As indicated below, voting is another important step towards becoming invested in and returning to the community.  This month our Inmate Voter Program through the dedication of our Prisoner Legal Services and volunteers, in partnership with the City's Department of Elections, facilitated a number of inmates with registration and absentee ballots. Our voter turnout was 75%. Not bad when you compare to the turn out in city precincts. 

A partnership has been developed to manage the  inmates with severe mental illness and to address the strain on staff resources both inside and outside our jails.  The Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) Program and the Peer Support Unit are both partnerships between local mental health and law enforcement professionals. CIT focuses on best practices to defuse difficult situations and preserve inmate and staff safety. Peer Support provides just that - support from our colleagues who recognize the daily job stress and tools for managing that stress.  CIT is not mandatory, and it needs to be. We have requested and pressed City Hall to comprehensively fund CIT since our jails have become the largest provider of mental health beds in San Francisco. 
And finally, we give thanks to the interfaith community, service providers and our staff, who are spending Thanksgiving with the women and men in our custody. We give thanks to all our family and friends who support the staff of the SF Sheriff's Department, who work tirelessly to improve public safety and make our department a positive example in the nation.

From me, Eliana, Theo, and Savannah (woof), wherever you sit down for your Thanksgiving meal - Enjoy!

Tablets in the County Jail

The San Francisco Sheriff's Department (SFSD) and it's Five Keys Charter High School (the first charter high school in a county jail in the United States) has collaborated with American Prison Data Systems (APDS) on an unprecedented pilot program that will relax the historical prohibition of computers in inmate quarters through the use of secure tablets for the purposes of delivering educational content electronically in a safe, secure and efficient way.

APDS is a public benefits corporation that was founded in 2011 by CEO Chris Grewe with the goals of making the custody environment safer and reducing recidivism in a cost-effective and technologically secure way. The pilot program's objectives are to identify client needs and to implement programs based on needs and criminal history, to establish individual treatment and reentry plans, to emphasize restorative justice and to cultivate responsible behaviors.

APDS has trained SFSD staff on the safety and security features of the 125 tablets delivered to the Five Keys Charter Schools and the Reentry Pod. APDS Android-based tablets are connected by a secure private network, designed by the same Verizon engineers who developed network security solutions for the Department of Homeland Security and the NYC Anti-Terror Taskforce. The tablets include: an online law library, APDS Secure Communications for inmate/teacher digital communications, APDS National Corrections Library (the first online recreational library curated specifically for custody environments), APDS virtual classroom for the remote delivery of teacher-led classes and the APDS Learning Management System, which supports digitization and delivery of Five Keys Charter School courses.

According to a 2014 RAND Study, adult correctional education improves post release outcomes. Inmates who participate in correctional education programs have a 43 percent lower chance of recidivating than those who do not participate in educational programs.

"APDS is thrilled that Sheriff Mirkarimi and Five Keys (Charter School) have chosen to partner with APDS and leverage our technology to expand the reach and power of their proven education and rehabilitation programs. We look forward to working closely with the Sheriff, Five Keys (Charter School) and their dedicated teams to help fulfill our shared mission of improving community safety and inmate-outcomes through education and rehabilitation," said CEO Chris Grewe.

"If we insist on effective crime prevention, then we must tackle this country's colossal failure to reduce recidivism by departure from past jail management practices that were designed to kill souls and release uneducated or unskilled inmates back into society," stated Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi. "Our pilot program for allowing inmates limited access to computer tablets is a natural extension of this Department's pioneering work in establishing the nation's first charter high school inside a county jail".
 Bark in the Park

On October 7th, San Francisco Sheriff's Department (SFSD) K-9 Handler Deputy M. Caliz and Explosives Detection Dog (E.D.D.) "Gunner" took part in the Fleet Week Event "Bark in the Park." Gunner is a two year old German Shorthair Pointer. The event was held at Jefferson Square Dog Park which is located directly across the street from 1011 Turk Street.

San Francisco's Department of Emergency Management (D.E.M.) sponsored and hosted the event. Among the attendees were the U.S. Marine Corps K-9 Unit, SFPD K-9 Unit, SFFD K-9, California Rescue Association Search and Rescue K-9s and S.F. Animal Care and Control.

Deputy Caliz shared with the public how SFSD K-9 Unit performs their role in public safety for the citizens of California.

The event was well attended by children and adults.
Peer Support Conference
Five members of the Peer Support Unit recently attended the 19th Annual Training Conference sponsored by The California Peer Support Association (CPSA). The theme of this year's conference was "In this Together". The conference featured law enforcement and mental health professionals from all over the United States as well as a retired detective sergeant from the New South Wales Police Force in Australia.

The topics covered included post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), suicide, substance abuse, debriefings and surviving a career in law enforcement. All presenters are experts in their fields and present topics directly related to treating first responders for the unique challenges of their work.

This year, the conference began with Sgt. Mike Poole lecturing on emergency responder exhaustion syndrome. Poole also explained the role of West Coast Post Trauma Retreat in treating first responders when they are unable to continue working due to the mental trauma that is the result of this line of work.

The purpose for attending this conference is to sharpen the skills of Peer Support team members and to secure instructors and subject matter for future Peer Support training sessions.

The San Francisco Sheriff's Department is well represented in the CPSA. Capt. Kevin Paulson and Sgt. Mike Gunn are on the board of directors and Sgt. Matt O'Shea was appointed to the board at the end of this conference.
Crisis Intervention Training: A Successful Partnership
Research suggests that rates of mental illness in jails have increased upwards of 50% over the last five years (Hirshkorn and Mitchell, 2011; Wiener, 2012), which is a trend that has been seen within the San Francisco County jail system. In response to this, Behavioral Health Services (BHS) partnered with SFSD in 2011 to develop an intensive Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) that is designed to improve the quality of services provided to the mentally ill population during their incarceration, as well as improve inmate and staff safety. This intensive two-day training includes interactive lectures, skill building activities, and field-based learning (including a visit to a community-based clinic). It provides practical tools that deputized staff can utilize in their daily work when interacting with inmates in crisis (e.g., de-escalation and suicide prevention).

In October, the Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) International Conference convened in Monterey, California. A primary focus of the conference was "resiliency and recovery through partnerships." Captain Michele Fisher, Facility Commander at County Jail 2, and Angelica Almeida, Deputy Director of Jail Health Reentry Services, had the honor of presenting on the development of collaborative relationships between law enforcement and treatment providers. Topics discussed included steps needed to improve relationships with partner agencies, ways that relationship building can impact outcomes in a crisis situation with special populations, and the unique needs of special populations housed in the jail. Given that it is unconventional to have a CIT Program in a forensic setting, the presentation was very well received. Feedback from attendees at the conference, as well as deputized staff who have completed the training, has been overwhelmingly positive and the curriculum has been utilized as a standard for crisis intervention trainings in forensic settings. We look forward to sharing our knowledge with members of CIT International, as well as anticipating providing this invaluable training to all deputized staff across jail and field operations so that the high standard of care and safety of staff and inmates in the San Francisco County Jail will continue to be a national model.
Voting in the Jails

Through its Prisoner Legal Services unit, the Department's Inmate Voter Program provided a record 432 inmates with voter services during November's Consolidated General Election. Of these inmates, 359 used the Inmate Voter Program to register to vote on November 4, 2014, and over 75% of the eligible voters returned their vote-by-mail ballots. The department has long been a leader in assisting eligible inmates with the registration and voting process serving virtually thousands of incarcerated voters over the years.  

The program requires a great deal of work and dedication and could not be done without the hard work of Prisoner Legal Services staff and student interns, the partnership of the San Francisco Department of Elections, the support of the Department's sworn and civilian staff and the enthusiastic commitment of Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi to the franchise of every eligible person in our custody.
SFSD Chaplaincy Program

SF Sheriff Interfaith Logo For many years a team of dedicated and ordained Clergy-persons continue to volunteer their pastoral services to the sworn and non-sworn department personnel providing a variety of Chaplain services, counseling, spiritual support, crisis intervention, as well being available for weddings, memorial services, and other occasions. The primary mission of the San Francisco Sheriff Department Chaplains is to provide a caring and compassionate "Ministry of Presence" with confidentiality and trust. 

The Chaplains do not serve the inmate population (this is done by other dedicated members of the faith community), nor do we advocate for our own personal faith tradition. We seek to serve the department in a non-denominational and interfaith manner. Sheriff's Department staff should feel free to call the Chaplains anytime:

Chaplain Dan White Sr. (Lead Chaplain) 
Chaplain Yul Dorn
Chaplain Tom Hamilton 
Chaplain Donnie Featherstone 
Chaplain Joseph Bryant 

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San Francisco Jail Inmates Get Computer Tablets

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