Mayor London Breed on Tuesday said it is important that Police Chief Bill Scott carry out a plan to respond to problems with an investigation into the leak of a police report on Public Defender Jeff Adachi’s death. (Kevin N. Hume / S.F. Examiner file photo)

Mayor Breed rejects call for Chief Scott to step down over Adachi leak

Spokesperson: ‘The mayor has not asked the chief to resign and she is not asking for his resignation’

Mayor London Breed is standing behind Police Chief Bill Scott despite a call by the officers union for his resignation over the handling of an investigation into a leaked police report.

The San Francisco Police Officers Association urged Scott to step down Saturday after the chief apologized for raiding the home and office of a freelance journalist. The union accused the chief of throwing the investigators who executed the search warrants under the bus with his apology.

But Breed, who has the power to fire the chief, issued a statement through a spokesperson Tuesday suggesting she has not lost confidence in Scott despite him drawing national scrutiny for carrying out the raids in possible violation of laws protecting journalists from having search warrants issued against them.

“The mayor has not asked the chief to resign and she is not asking for his resignation,” Breed’s spokesperson, Jeff Cretan, said in the statement.

The San Francisco Police Department raided the home and office of Bryan Carmody on May 10 after the freelancer declined to identify the source who leaked him a police report on the February death of the late Public Defender Jeff Adachi.

The SFPD executed the search warrants amid pressure from elected officials to hold the source accountable. Adachi’s widow called the leak “despicable” at a Board of Supervisors meeting in April.

After the raid, Carmody said he sold the report to several TV stations. He has sold video and information packages to local outlets for years as a stringer in the industry.

Scott at first defended the raids, saying that the department went through the “appropriate legal process” to obtain the warrants from two judges, before coming out against them Friday.

“I am specifically concerned by a lack of due diligence by department investigators in seeking search warrants and appropriately addressing Mr. Carmody’s status as a member of the news media,” Scott said in a statement.

Scott also said he had asked several outside agencies to consider taking over the criminal investigation at the request of Breed.

“The chief has laid out a plan to address the challenges with the Adachi investigation and what needs to be done going forward, and it is important for The City and Police Department that he do that important work,” Cretan said.

The following day, SFPOA President Tony Montoya and his executive board called on the chief to resign.

“His apology to the media was clearly meant for him to save face as opposed to accept responsibility for his own actions,” the SFPOA said. “Shameful.”

In response, Police Commission leadership and Rev. Amos Brown, the leader of the local NAACP, have issued statements in support of Scott.

The call for his resignation was not the first time that the SFPOA has criticized the chief.

Scott, a department outsider from Los Angeles, was not the union’s preferred choice to replace former Chief Greg Suhr when then-Mayor Ed Lee tapped him to reform the SFPD in 2016 after a series of police shootings led to activists calling for Suhr to resign.

One major sign of a divide between the union and the chief came in 2018 when Scott came out against a ballot measure from the union to override department policy on arming officers with stun guns.

Then-union President Martin Halloran said City Hall had played Scott “like a cheap fiddle.”

“He should get rid of whoever is advising him – otherwise, he is going to drive an irreparable wedge between himself and the membership,” Halloran said.

The union has since swapped leaders and separated from Halloran as well as his predecessor, Gary Delagnes. But the once powerful union’s sway had already dwindled at City Hall due to its reputation for stalling police reform.

Under Montoya, the union has attempted to change its image.

“Our bombastic style doesn’t work anymore. It turns people off,” Montoya once said. “I’ll be more thoughtful. I have an easy disposition and active listening skills.”

Whether the union will eventually be able to regain enough clout to oust Scott has yet to be seen, but some insiders said Tuesday’s call for Scott to resign marks a return to old habits.

“If the POA leadership wants to be taken seriously, they need to put their energy into reforming the department, not tearing it down,” said Police Commissioner John Hamasaki, who defended the chief for “showing integrity” with his apology.

For now, Scott appears to have the confidence of the mayor.

“Under the Chief, the Police Department has made a lot of progress in working with the Department of Justice to implement reforms that have led to decreases in use of force incidents and officer-involved shootings,” said Cretan, the mayor’s spokesperson. “The department has also seen decreases in property crimes and violent crimes over the last year, especially gun violence.”

This story has been updated to include additional information.

Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez contributed to this report.

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

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