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Police Chief Greg Suhr resigns after latest fatal police shooting

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SFPD Chief Greg Suhr briefs the media near the scene where a 27-year-old woman was shot and killed by police in the Bayview District of San Francisco, Calif. Thursday, May 19, 2016. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)
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Hours after the latest fatal police shooting in San Francisco, Mayor Ed Lee announced Thursday afternoon that Police Chief Greg Suhr has resigned from his position as The City’s top cop.

Lee made the announcement at City Hall after meeting with the chief behind closed doors. Toney Chaplin, a 26-year veteran of the Police Department, will serve as acting chief.

The mayor’s call for Suhr’s resignation follows Thursday’s fatal police shooting in which a Bayview Station sergeant shot and killed an unarmed 27-year-old woman who had fled from police in a stolen car, and after months of scrutiny over high-profile police shootings and use of force tactics by police that has prompted the mayor to put into action a series of reforms.

“I have previously expressed confidence in Chief Suhr because I know he agrees with and understands the need for reform,” Lee said. “He has demonstrated his commitment to instilling these reforms into the whole department, from the command staff to the cadets.”

The mayor continued, “But following this morning’s officer-involved shooting and my meeting with Chief Suhr this afternoon, today I have arrived at a different conclusion to the question of how best to move forward.

“The progress we’ve made has been meaningful, but it hasn’t been fast enough. Not for me, not for Greg. That’s why I have asked Chief Suhr for his resignation. And in the best interest of The City he loves so much, he tendered his resignation earlier today.”

Lee had previously defended the chief, despite four supervisors last week calling for Suhr to step down. Wednesday night’s Police Commission meeting in Chinatown was interrupted by protesters calling for a review of Suhr’s performance.

Activists, and for 17 days five hunger strikers known as the “Frisco 5,” have been calling for the mayor to fire Suhr since the Mario Woods killing in Dec. 2, which was caught on video that went viral.

Members of the Board of Supervisors praised Suhr for his leadership while also calling for a new culture and greater emphasis on reforms in the embattled Police Department.

Board of Supervisors President London Breed, who has known Suhr from when she grew up in the Western Addition and Suhr was a narcotics officer working the beat in her neighborhood, said in a statement, “I only hope his resignation today can help heal the wounds our community has suffered, and that all of us can dedicate ourselves to the police reforms Chief Suhr helped begin.”

Among the supervisors who called for Suhr to step down last week was Supervisor John Avalos, who said Thursday the chief’s departure will place a greater emphasis on reforming the Police Department.

“I think it was the right move,” Avalos said of the chief resigning. “Now the real work needs to get done … I am hopeful that things will get better.”

A San Francisco native, Suhr has been a police officer since 1981. He graduated from St. Ignatius Preparatory and the University of San Francisco and has had a varied career, including serving as captain of the Bayview Station prior to his time as chief.

As a deputy chief, Suhr was indicted along with a group of other department brass in 2003 for allegedly covering up a fight involving two officers with a man over a fajita in a scandal that came to be known as “Fajita-gate.” The charges were ultimately dropped.

Suhr was appointed chief by Lee in April 2011 to replace interim Chief Jeff Godown. During his time in the department he had a close relationship with the powerful police union and even had a monthly column “Chief’s Corner” in their journal.

Under Suhr’s leadership, two separate incidents came to light in which San Francisco officers reportedly sent racist text messages. The allegations called into question claims made by some that the department has no issues with race, and came amid numerous police reform efforts, some of which were spurred directly as a result of previous revelations of bigotry in the ranks.

Suhr was The City’s 42nd police chief.

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  • Paul Victor Fonseca

    Thank you for your service Greg. You have done a great job with your hands tied behind your back let Ed and the idiot stupervisors of this screwed up city continue their path on running the city . …into the ground. …..

  • Flubert

    Yes, I think that it was the political interference that made Suhr decide that he has had enough. In fact he probably would have quit earlier but did not want to reward the self-absorbed protesters by making them think they can intimidate our sworn officers.

    Whomever Lee offers the job to will surely demand assurances of immunity from political interference.

  • doc

    Bye Bye Bullet Head.

  • Norbu Norbu

    Thug lives matter.

    SF is only going to get worse.

  • Norbu Norbu

    Hello to more crime in SF.

  • Paul Bearer

    A victory for the Liquid Diet 5!

    I just hope they never come across a drugged out, knife-wielding thug like Mario Woods or have their cars stolen by some lowlife thugette.

  • Flubert

    Actually I think that if anything the pseudo hunger strike prolonged Lee and Suhr making this decision, because they did not want to allow it to appear that they were being railroaded by a small noisy minority.

    I suspect Suhr is sick of political interference stopping him from doing his job and, like the last Oakland police chief, decided that if he can’t do the job his way, then quit and take the 2 million, or whatever his payoff will be.

  • Flubert

    Depends which way Lee goes. If he cowers to the noisy minority and bring in a chief who is soft on crime, or one that will tolerate political interference then, yes, we will see a crime wave as the criminal elements will feel emboldened and immune.

    Or Lee may choose a tough chief who will be more aggressive than Suhr.

  • doc

    You are absolutely correct there Norbu and as long as we still have cowards in the SFPD who are so scared to leave their homes we will continue to have these murders on our streets.

    I have friends who are US Marshals and they tell me they too worry about these gutless cops here ruining the reputation of all police. So far, these cowards are doing a pretty good job at that.

  • sffoghorn

    Toast. Don’t let that $300k pa pension kick you in the ass on your way out.

  • sffoghorn

    Perhaps if Suhr had done his job and trained officers to not shoot first he would still have a job. Always blame other people .

  • Zippster

    So the new acting chief is black.

    Who will Black Lives Matter blame now when another black life gets wasted by the police?? Cause it will happen again.

  • Flubert

    It’s a shrewd move to deflect the card players.

  • Flubert

    With 33 years service Suhr is well past the usual retirement age for cops. And he had the decency to stand down unlike Mirk who, unlike Suhr has a conviction for a violent crime, did not.

    If no criminal was ever the victim a force I’d suspect a police department which was far too soft anf lenient.

  • Flubert

    For putting up with all the political interference that he had to, your taxes should be paying him double that.

    Oh, and he will get a golden handshake as well.

  • Zippster

    Right now they don’t know what to think, hahaha.

  • sffoghorn

    Ross was elected by the people and dispatched by them as well and Ross did not command staff that routinely butchered civilians.

    Lee fired Greg Suhr.

  • sffoghorn

    Of course there is no politics in the private sector.

    The taxpayers are taking the golden dildo action to pay this corrupt POA hack’s golden retirement.

  • sffoghorn

    Under Suhr, property crime skyrocketed.

  • Norbu Norbu

    That’s not what I meant.

  • doc

    Don’t let your friends scare you away from your statement Norbu, own your words, don’t worry many of us agree with you.

  • 1MarianneD

    Dear Black Lives Matter: If people steal cars in your neighborhood, how do you want it handled?

  • 1MarianneD

    No, thugs’ lives Don’t Matter.

  • Norbu Norbu

    Trust me, I don’t.

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