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S.F. police to suspend up to 20 cops over videos

A San Francisco police officer accused of making videos with sexist, racist and homophobic content defended the work Thursday as satirical, even as his chief the the city's mayor harshly criticized them.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A police officer accused of making videos with sexist, racist and homophobic content defended the work Thursday as satirical, and blasted the police chief for criticizing it.

“It was just made for us, so shame on her,” Officer Andrew Cohen said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Mayor Gavin Newsom and Police Chief Heather Fong said Wednesday that up to 20 officers participated in creating or performing in the videos. Cohen was suspended, and the others face discipline.

The video included a skit of a white police officer in a patrol car running over a black homeless woman and a male cross-dresser flirting with a male officer.

“This is a dark day, an extremely dark day, in the history of the San Francisco Police Department,” said Fong, who called the acts “egregious, shameful and despicable.”

“It is shameful, it is offensive, it is sexist, it is homophobic and it is racist,” Newsom said. “We’re going to make sure that it ends, it ends immediately.”

Artistic spoof?
Cohen said the videos were created as an artistic spoof about life on the force.

“We did this absolutely for morale purposes,” he told ABC. “We did it for a Christmas party that was coming up, sort of to roast my former captain. We did it because there are some very fun and interesting characters at the station and we thought it would be fun to showcase and laugh at their idiosyncrasies and personalities.”

His attorney, Daniel Horowitz, said Cohen wasn’t informed he was suspended, and paperwork showed he had been moved to a file room. He also defended the videos as art, saying they contained self-analytical material that reflected how the community saw police.

“Andrew Cohen is an artist,” Horowitz told ABC. “If you look at the videos you realize that there is social commentary mixed in with what he calls humor.”

The department’s internal affairs division launched an investigation after the videos were discovered on a Web site. They have since been removed.

In one video, which spoofed the TV show “Charlie’s Angels,” three gun-toting police women in T-shirts and blue jeans report to a police captain, who sits behind a desk and suggestively licks his lips.

Through the rest of the clip, a street person, an apparent transvestite, and several others lick their lips in a similar manner and say, “Ohhh, captain.”

Another video showed a lazy pair of officers who ignored several dispatches while reading the newspaper, napping in their cruiser and practicing martial arts in a parking lot.

When gunshots are reported, they race off with their lights flashing and siren wailing — only to show up at a massage parlor the driver had spotted in a magazine ad.