Undersheriff Katherine Johnson, who promoted to her current position in September 2022, joined the San Francisco Sheriff's Office in March 1996. She worked in the Intake and Release Center, County Jails #2 and #4, and the now-shuttered County Jail #3. She also served in the Classification and Personnel Units, and in key executive positions for multiple Sheriff administrations including as Assistant Sheriff, Chief Deputy, Chief of Staff, Budget Officer, and Media Relations Officer.
She is the Sheriff Office’s “Buffin” lead and subject matter expert, having worked with the Office of the City Attorney in San Francisco and local law enforcement agencies to develop new release procedures that replaced the Superior Court’s pre-arraignment bail schedule. A September 2019 federal court judgment, known as the Buffin court case, ruled that the court’s pre-arraignment bail schedule was unconstitutional.
Undersheriff Johnson has helped advance multiple reforms toward a more equitable and compassionate criminal justice system including:
- Introduction of the Public Safety Assessment (PSA) tool, a validated risk assessment tool, that launched in 2016. The PSA measures the likelihood that a person will commit a new crime or fail to appear in court while excluding factors such as race, gender, level of education, socioeconomic status, and neighborhood.
- Expansion of the Sheriff’s Office’s Community Programs Unit to 24/7 operations to support justice-involved people in alternatives to incarceration.
- Development of groundbreaking transgender, gender variant, and non-binary (TGN) policy and procedures for the Sheriff’s Office.
- Implementation of a treatment and counseling program for cisgender and trans female survivors of domestic violence, stalking, and trafficking.
- Partnering on a $950,000 grant to start the Misdemeanor Behavioral Health Court, which provides treatment and alternatives to incarceration for arrestees with serious mental illness.
Undersheriff Johnson has taught both Advanced Officer and CORE training for many years. A native San Franciscan, she graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School in the Sunset district and earned her undergraduate degree later in life from Union Institute and University.
The proud daughter of Greek immigrants, Undersheriff Johnson is bilingual and enjoys cooking and the outdoors.