Paul Henderson '85 confirmed as new executive director of DPA
Posted 03/29/2018 09:18AM

San Francisco, CA – San Francisco Department of Police Accountability (DPA) ( announced today that Paul Henderson has been confirmed Executive Director of DPA. Henderson's confirmation comes after three separate nominations by the Police Commission, appointment by the Mayor(s), and unanimous approval by the Board of Supervisors. In a statement to the Examiner, Supervisor Malia Cohen said, "I believe our city will greatly benefit from [Henderson's] leadership." In 2016, Cohen introduced Proposition D and Proposition G, measures that expanded the powers of DPA, giving the department the ability to audit the San Francisco Police Department and requiring investigations of all police shootings.

Paul Henderson has been serving as interim director of the Department of Police Accountability since July 2017. Prior to his appointment, Henderson served as Deputy Chief of Staff and Public Safety Liaison for Mayor Ed Lee. Henderson supported the Lee Administration and various City departments by advising the Mayor on the criminal justice system and encouraging greater cooperation between local, state and federal partners. Before joining the Mayor's Office, Henderson served as Chief of Administration under then-district Attorney Kamala Harris. Henderson has over a decade of prosecutorial experience, winning dozens of trials, and has handled every type of case from misdemeanors to serious felonies, including homicide.

"Paul Henderson is a dedicated employee who served the City with professionalism and poise in his role as interim director of the Department of Police Accountability," said Mayor Mark Farrell. "From his tenure at the District Attorney's Office to his time at the Mayor's Office, Paul has always earned the respect and admiration from his peers for his tireless work ethic. As the head of the DPA, he is a crucial intermediary between the police department and the communities they represent, and I am confident he will continue to effectively provide leadership as the full-time executive director. I was honored to appoint him to the position and I wish him all the best in the future."

As Executive Director, Henderson will continue DPA's recent successes achieved during his brief tenure, which include key internal reforms, continuing the agency's work on the COPS Collaborative Reform Process, and making progress to reshape policy and auditing functions. Henderson comments "Leadership in law enforcement oversight benefits not only the individual complainant, but also the larger community, police, and even elected officials. I've spent almost my entire career in public service and remain committed to improving the lives of our community members with an effort to increase inclusion and justice. I want to make sure that there are no barriers to any groups or person exercising their civic duties or their rights as they relate to law enforcement. As a native San Franciscan, I want to see a greater collaboration with and inclusion of community stakeholders; to improve training, policies and practices to reduce the use of force; and to encourage stronger mechanisms for transparency and accountability. My vision is a model for other cities and states to follow that defines San Francisco as a city where no community has to fear law enforcement and where arrest and use of force by law enforcement agencies are a last resort."

About San Francisco Department of Police Accountability

The DPA (formerly the Office of Citizen Complaints or OCC) was created by Charter amendment proposed by the Board of Supervisors, was adopted by the voters on November 2, 1982, and began its operations in 1983. By subsequent Charter amendments, the DPA was guaranteed minimum staffing of one investigator for every 150 police officers, and its Director was given the authority to file charges against police officers directly with the Police Commission, if after meeting and conferring with the Police Chief, an agreement could not be reached. (San Francisco City Charter, Article IV, section 4.127.)

Mission & Responsibilities

To promptly, fairly, and impartially investigate complaints against the San Francisco Police Department, make policy recommendations regarding police practice, investigate all officer-involved shootings, and conduct periodic audits of the San Francisco Police Department.


To ensure community safety, enhance community police relations, make policy recommendations regarding police practices, and provide an independent review process.


The DPA is staffed by a diverse group of civilians who have never been San Francisco Police Department officers. The DPA conducts impartial and thorough investigations into complaints of police misconduct and inadequate services involving the San Francisco Police Department with respect to the rights of all parties involved. In addition, the DPA builds bridges between the community and the San Francisco Police Department through mediation and other restorative practices. The DPA conveys concerns and needs of the community to the Police Commission and reports back to the community through outreach.

Press Contact

San Francisco Department of Police Accountability

Sarah Hawkins, Chief of Staff 415-241-7711

St. Ignatius College Preparatory

Courage to Lead; Passion to Serve

2001 37th Avenue San Francisco, CA 94116
(415) 731-7500
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