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Pressure mounts against Chief Suhr

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San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr. (Jeff Chiu/AP)

The pressure against San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr is ratcheting up, and it is unclear whether he can lead the force effectively with high-ranking elected officials now joining months of protests calling for his ouster.

Mayor Ed Lee has been steadfast in his support of Suhr up to now. The mounting pressure should force him to reconsider.

A group five of hunger strikers calling for the removal of Suhr ended their fast on Saturday, after 17 days, due to medical concerns, but that apparently was not the end of their fight. The night before violence broke out at City Hall, as protesters echoing the demands of the hunger strikers refused to leave the building. Scores were arrested, and numerous people were injured.

The past week has been a quick escalation of a dangerously serious moment for San Francisco.

Calls for reform of the San Francisco Police Department and replacing the chief stem from the controversial fatal police shootings by San Francisco police in recent years — most recently of Luis Gongora, a homeless man in the Mission District, on April 7.

The protesters have done their part to keep the issue burning and the pressure on. And now we may be seeing some results as elected officials find they can no longer sit on the sidelines.

Last week, Supervisor John Avalos issued a list of concrete suggestions to improve the SFPD use-of-force policies, including calling for a U.S. Department of Justice human rights investigation into department practices, establishing clear consequences for officers who violate procedures, and building connections with families of those killed by police. They were a direct result of the protests’ pressure.

This week started with a further blow to the troubled SFPD when District Attorney George Gascon announced results of a year-long independent study, finding the department biased in its policing of communities of color and lacking in holding officers accountable for misdeeds.

On Tuesday, Board of Supervisors President London Breed joined many of her colleagues in an unusually pointed session of grilling Mayor Lee on the speed and efficacy of police reform in San Francisco. “The community is in pain. Protesters are demanding the removal of the chief,” Breed said to Lee. “How do we bring The City together?”

Earlier Tuesday, when asked by the San Francisco Examiner about protesters’ call for Chief Suhr to step down, the mayor said something curious. Lee said, “I have never rejected it outright, but I have always said that I am not ready to make that change.”

For the first time in public, Lee seemed to allow for the possibility that Suhr’s days as chief may be numbered. Whether his comments were spurred by any change of heart or just the acknowledgement of Suhr’s approaching full pension and possible retirement was unclear.

Then on Wednesday, Supervisor Jane Kim became the first high-level city political official to call for the removal of Suhr. Her call was quickly seconded by supervisors Avalos, Eric Mar and David Campos.

“It is time to launch a search for a new chief who can implement fundamental reform,” Kim said.

Hopefully, the tide is turning and the pressure of the protests will bring needed change to the SFPD and to The City.

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  • As a SFPD Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) trainer and working group member, I have been able to observe a number of significant reforms the chief has made.

    Taking a longer view, Police Chief Suhr has been one of the most progressive chiefs our city’s police department has ever had. He has also taken a number of significant steps to reform both training (CIT for all) and use of force policies (requiring de-escalation training and assessment right on the firing range). Even if he is forced out or steps down, I hope these accomplishments are remembered.

  • HowdyNSA

    How come nobody talks about how Chief Suhr cost the city $725,000 when they discuss all the trouble he is responsible for?

    “San Francisco officials agreed Friday to pay $725,000 to settle a wrongful termination lawsuit filed by a former Police Department lawyer.

    Kelly O’Haire sued the city and Police Department in 2013, alleging she was fired because she accused Chief Greg Suhr of mishandling a domestic violence investigation. “

  • bob

    I say we remove the 4 idiots who are asking for Chief Suhr’s being fired? A small minority (criminal lovers) are making their voices heard. Well I support the chief. And here I was going to vote for Kim in the Primary, she just lost my vote. I hear Weiner supports the chief. I’m not a Weiner fan but he is now getting my vote.

  • Sar Wash

    San Franciscans support Chief Suhr. Jane Kim, please step down from your supervisorial post. Chief Suhr and Mayor Lee, keep up the work and please do not listen to this tiny whinging minority that does not care about our City, just their own fame and pocketbook.

  • Dash Cam

    Glad to hear the San Francisco village idiot Edwin Lee, aka San Francisco’s mayor, is actually beginning to listen to reason. Keep up the good work protestors! May your continued vigilance bring about the changes sorely needed for the biased, racist, nepotistic and completely undisciplined SFPD. While we’re at it, let’s get rid of that loud mouthed Terrance Hallinan who’s with the equally corrupt P.O.A. It’s time to clean house, starting with the SFPD. After that, let’s clean house at City Hall, starting with the recall of that moron Edwin Lee.

  • Dash Cam

    Bob, you’re the idiot. Get real! Read the article by the SFWeekly titled, “The Many Scandals of Police Chief Greg Suhr.” Then you’ll change your tune about who the heck you should vote for, your moron.

  • Dash Cam

    LOL!!!!! You’re actually in the minority, dude. Get real. Read up on this lying sack of excrement, “chief” suhr in the SFWeekly article, “The Many Scandals of Police Chief Greg Suhr,” for a WELL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT OF THIS GUY AND JUST HOW CORRUPT HE IS!!!!

  • Dash Cam

    The only thing Suhr will be remembered for is how he was busted down by Chief Fong for his nepotism. The guy to this very day has a bone to pick with residents of the Bayview neighborhood. He’s out of touch, he’s racist and HE NEEDS TO BE FIRED. NOW!

  • Scoop Brady

    LOL!! Who is in the minority? 100 protesters on Monday? Great turnout. Chief Suhr is not going anywhere. LOL

  • Scoop Brady

    Ah ha! Resort to name calling when someone disagrees with you. The mature tactics of the SF progressive!

  • FuzzmanX

    Suhr isn’t responsible for the bad parenting and poor judgment that has lead to recent deaths. I have no sympathy for anyone that fails to comply. Only a fool resists legal armed arrest.

  • FuzzmanX

    So he sends his blue thugs out to shoot vulnerable knife-wielding crackheads. Put down the pipe, now!

  • FuzzmanX

    I don’t think you read this article very clearly. You don’t seem to challenge your thinking on issues. You must yell alot.

  • FuzzmanX

    You obviously can’t count.

  • FuzzmanX

    Are these the same folks that oppose arming police with Tasars?

  • FuzzmanX

    Yet 1000 people committed to joining the protest on Facebook. And of the hundred, I recognized several people I know are from the East Bay.

  • hapakii

    I hate violence, but someone really needs to put these 4 knucklehead supervisors in place. Soon we will have a police department with morale like Baltimore, or better yet a City like Chicago & a do nothing police force that will just take police reports for Homicides & Robbery’s. Cops need to learn, if the progressive wants to control you. You just need to take a few steps back, and go low & slow just leave the radio alone. Don’t go out of your way to be a hero. Just be thankful you can go home with a pay check. Plus if you do the bare minimum, you still get pay & no stress. That is pretty dam good. Fuc D communist 4 on the Board. Hope they get robbed, punk and some by you ghetto hoods.