The targeted killings of two police officers by a disturbed man in New York City Saturday was a “sad and senseless” act and has prompted San Francisco police to be on alert for their own safety, said SFPD Chief Greg Suhr.
Suhr stood outside of the a toy give away in Bayview Hunter’s Point Monday afternoon surrounded by reporters asking mainly about one subject. That was how the killing of two New York City police officers would impact San Francisco’s police force. The New York officers were killed by a man who said he was motivated by protests against the police treatment of African Americans.
“Right now we are grieving as a profession for two fallen officers only guilty of wearing a uniform,” said Suhr, who noted that the department had put out a bulletin urging San Francsico officers to use extra precaution after the New York City police killings.
“Like ever cop in the world your heart just sank,” he said Monday. “Those officers and their families are on our minds.”
The chief's comments come at a time of rising tensions here, too.
Local participants in nation-wide protests over the deaths of two unarmed black men at the hands of police have filled the streets of San Francisco and the East Bay in recent weeks, and in some cases have resulted in wounded protesters and police.
At times boisterous local protests have faced off with the very police forces they hope to change, calling for reforms in the wake of decisions by grand juries in New York and Missouri to not indict any officers in the deaths of Michael Brown or Eric Garner.
Police whose job it is to monitor protests have found themselves at the center of the debate, from Richmond's police chief, who stood alongside protesters there, to a pair of outed undercover CHP officers at an Oakland protest, one of which pulled a gun on protesters.
Then, last week, San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos brought that debate to City Hall after he introduced a resolution which voiced support for the protests. A version of that resolution, which did not pass, mentioned San Francisco police in a mostly positive light. But it did include mention of incidents of police violence in The City in the same breath as the death of Brown and Garner at the hands of police.
The City's police union did not take kindly to what they saw as an incitement to violence by an elected official even though the resolution noted how measured San Francisco's police have been with protesters.
That resolution, which is all but a gesture since resolutions don’t change policies, was condemned by The San Francisco Police Officers Association for its characterization of police as “racist occupiers” and warned it would incite violence.
Then, only days afterward came the killings in New York City.
Now even New York City’s mayor has called for suspending protests there until the funerals of the two officers are over.
In San Fracisco, Suhr’s comments on the distant killings came on a poignant date. Monday was the anniversary of the killing of SFPD officer Bryan Tuvera in 2006.
Protests or no, Suhr told reporters that every time an officer puts on a uniform and goes to work there's a chance bad things can happen to them – that's just part of the job.