Second polarizing figure separates from SF police union

A longtime leader of the San Francisco Police Officers Association has quit after the union severed ties with his predecessor for publicly lambasting the late Public Defender Jeff Adachi, the San Francisco Examiner has learned.

SFPOA President Tony Montoya confirmed Thursday that Martin Halloran, who stepped down as president of the police union in May 2018, left his job as a consultant for the union last Friday.

While the reasons for his departure are unclear, the news comes after union leadership unanimously decided last Monday to separate from former president Gary Delagnes, who posted fiery claims on Facebook about the death of Adachi while working as a consultant for the union.

Montoya said Delagnes crossed a line during his social media tirade against Adachi, a fervent advocate for police reform who died unexpectedly Feb. 22, when he brought up personal issues involving Adachi’s family.

The departures come amid attempts to rebrand the union, which under Delagnes and Halloran appears to have lost influence at City Hall for loudly resisting police reform and criticisms of police shootings. Montoya has described himself as having an easier disposition than his predecessors.

But John Crew, a retired ACLU attorney and frequent critic of the union, said their departures are meaningless unless SFPOA leadership “actually change their long standing anti-reform, anti-accountability positions.”

“As long as their actual positions reflect the ‘bad cop lobby’ that they became under Delagnes and Halloran, no one should be fooled into thinking this is a ‘new’ SFPOA,” Crew said.

Under Montoya, the SFPOA has filed a lawsuit seeking to block San Francisco from retroactively releasing records on police misconduct under Senate Bill 1421. Montoya has also come out against proposed state legislation to raise the standard required for police to use deadly force.

“As long as they are clearly contrary to the public interest, then elected officials and candidates for office will risk political damage if they choose to align themselves with them,” Crew said.

Halloran did not respond to requests for comment. Montoya was not immediately available to comment further on the departure.

Halloran succeeded Delagnes as president of the police union in 2013. In one of his last acts as president, Halloran spearheaded a June 2018 ballot measure that would have loosened the rules for the use of stun guns.

When Police Chief Bill Scott came out against the measure, Halloran said publicly that the chief had been played “like a cheap fiddle.” Proposition H failed, and police are still not equipped with Tasers today.

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

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