SEE RELATED STORY: Four supervisors voice support to search for new police chief
One of San Francisco’s supervisors is now echoing the calls of protesters for The City to begin searching for a new police chief.
Supervisor Jane Kim, who is also running for state Senate in November, on Wednesday became the first high-level political official to call for the removal of Chief Greg Suhr.
“It is clear that we need a change to address these systemic problems and bring our city together,” Kim said in a statement Wednesday. “Chief Greg Suhr has served San Francisco for over 30 years and we should thank him for that service. But even he must acknowledge that leading a culture shift in that department would be easier and faster if there was new leadership there.
“It is time to launch a search for a new chief who can implement fundamental reform.”
Kim’s statement comes in the wake of preliminary findings by an independent Blue Ribbon panel that found systemic problems in the San Francisco Police Department.
On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors peppered Mayor Ed Lee with questions about police reform after the legislators were themselves berated by protesters and the hunger strikers known as the “Frisco 5.”
Lee has remained in support of Suhr, even reiterating that support in a meeting with reporters Tuesday where he announced additional funding to aid his already large package of reforms. Suhr has meanwhile repeatedly said he has no plans on leaving his post.
Suhr did not immediately reply to a request for comment Wednesday.
Kim is the first high-level elected official to publicly support naming a new chief, even as protesters have been calling for his firing since the shooting death of Mario Woods Dec. 2, 2015. The City Attorney’s Office has said police acted lawfully when they shot Woods after he refused to drop a knife, but civil rights attorneys have disputed that finding. Video footage also indicates Woods did not raise the knife at officers just before he was shot.
While Kim praised Suhr’s service, she said his position has become untenable if The City wants reforms to go forward.
“The reality is that as long as Chief Suhr continues to lead this department, as long as we focus on City Hall politics rather than the best interests of The City, we will be unable to truly address the very serious problems raised by this report and the very serious concerns raised by residents of San Francisco.”
Her statement continued:
“Simply asking for new training or new money is not enough. We need new leadership as well, and to make that shift in a way that protects the public and our police officers we should launch a national search at once. Perhaps we will find a candidate from the department who is ready to lead change. Perhaps we will not. But we owe it to the public and the police to find the very best leadership for our department.”