Before the New Day. In last act, interim D.A. Loftus pushes new sex assault policy

Following a year long grass roots people’s campaign major change will arrive in San Francisco law enforcement at 5pm on Wednesday afternoon in Herbst Auditorium. 

The venue is already booked beyond capacity.

 Chesa Boudin will be sworn in by Mayor London Breed and will become San Francisco District Attorney. The torch will be passed to a new generation of law enforcement.

It is worldwide news. 

One policy which DA Boudin will pursue aggressively is the sex assault prosecution policy instituted by his predecessor.

San Francisco Chronicle – Heather Knight – 1.7.2020

Life at San Francisco’s Hall of Justice is about to change — again — with the baton-passing at 5 p.m. Wednesday from interim District Attorney Suzy Loftus to no-interim-needed Chesa Boudin.

Chesa Boudin 1.7.2020

Boudin famously edged out presumed front-runner Loftus in the Nov. 5 election after former District Attorney George Gascón quit to seek the same office in Los Angeles.

But as for what comes next for Loftus professionally, she’s not sure. She won’t be returning to her previous job as an attorney in the sheriff’s office and will take time off to consider her next steps. She said she wants to “evaluate different ways to make the greatest impact going forward.”

She still claims to not regret taking the job of interim district attorney two weeks before the Nov. 5 election. Breed tapped her for the role after Gascón left office earlier than expected, and political insiders mostly agree it wound up hurting Loftus in the election.

The musical chairs will end when Boudin is sworn in by Mayor London Breed at Herbst Theater, an event that Loftus will not attend because, she said, she’ll be out of town. The two have disagreed on plenty, but in good news for victims of sexual assault, they have agreed on a new way of prosecuting these brutal crimes.

On Monday, Loftus initiated a new policy that Boudin has pledged to continue. It requires a prosecutor in the sex crimes unit be on call 24/7 to assist police officers in sexual assault investigations.

That could include reviewing search warrants, guiding police in interviewing victims and suspects, or helping find video footage from, say, bars, Lyft cars or private buildings’ security cameras.

That in and of itself would be a big change from Gascón’s tenure when numerous women complained their sex assault and rape cases went nowhere. Gascón has said his office filed charges in nearly 40% of sexual assault cases — about twice the national average — but admitted it was “a far cry from where we need to be.”

All four candidates in the November race to replace him said it was a weak spot at the Hall of Justice they were determined to fix.

Under the new policy, at least eight prosecutors and managing attorneys on the sexual assault team will rotate so someone is always available to respond to police seeking aid in an investigation.

Loftus said a particular area of focus will be drug-facilitated sexual assaults, which, like homicide, might have a victim who can’t tell police or prosecutors what happened. Those crimes can include an assailant drugging someone to rape them or assaulting someone who is too drunk or high to give consent.

That’s where sending uniformed police officers to the scene as quickly as possible, seeking camera footage and even testing the victim’s sweat and vomit for drugs can be crucial, Loftus said.

“You consider everything and cast a broad net to piece back together what happened,” she said.

She said she’s talked numerous times to Police Chief Bill Scott about the changes and that he was immediately on board.

“Sexual assault is one of the very worst things that any one of us sees in law enforcement,” Loftus continued. “This idea we couldn’t do things better, couldn’t do more for people, didn’t sit well with him, either.”

Boudin confirmed he has spoken with Loftus and Scott about the changes.

“I approved the new policies,” he wrote in a text message. “I look forward to implementing them as a first step towards improving our victim-centered response to sex crimes.”

Loftus said she’s proud of her 2½ months in office and cited the changes in sexual assault prosecutions as one achievement. She said she’s also pleased her focus on property crime helped lead to last month’s bust of a fencing operation, netting $2.5 million in stolen laptops, smartphones, cameras, luxury handbags and other pricey goods.

She said she’s also worked to boost the notoriously low morale in the district attorney’s office.

“For as many days as I was here, I have been honored to serve,” Loftus said. “I wish the district attorney-elect the best of luck.”

https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/heatherknight/article/In-last-act-interim-D-A-Loftus-pushes-new-sex-14954393.php