SAN FRANCISCO—On Thursday, May 19, San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee announced at a press conference at City Hall, the resignation of SFPD Chief Greg Suhr, after an officer shot and killed a young black woman who was allegedly driving a stolen car. The woman was shot only when she didn’t follow orders by police. According to the police department, the officers involved have been placed on administrative leave as the investigation continues.
“For the past several months, this city has been shaken and divided, and tensions between our law enforcement and communities of color have simmered for too many years,” said Lee.
Suhr is a 33-year veteran of the San Francisco Police Department. He became chief of police on April 27, 2011. On the police department website Suhr states, “I can’t believe how lucky I am to be the Chief in the best Police Department in the best City in the world.”
The San Francisco Police Department is still dealing with the public reaction to the shooting of Mario Woods back in December 2015 and the fatal shooting of Luis Gongora in April 2016. Also several media outlets reported two scandals involving racist text messages sent between officers. Mayor Lee has continued to provide support to Suhr and the work he has done.
“I’ve known him for years, and he’s a man of great character. He takes his job seriously, he’s loyal, he’s smart, and he understands that a Police officer is more than a public safety enforcer. A police officer is peace of mind, a social worker. He’s a model San Franciscan and a great man,” said Lee.
The mayor noted that, “I have previously expressed confidence in Chief Suhr, because I know he agrees with and understands the need for reform,” said Lee. “But following this morning’s officer-involved shooting and my meeting with Chief Suhr this afternoon, today I have arrived at a different conclusion to the question of how best to move forward.” Mayor Lee met privately with Surh to ask for his resignation.
During the press conference with reporters, Mayor Lee announced Deputy Chief Toney Chaplin as acting Police Chief. “Toney has served in the Police Department for 26 years. He’s established a record of commitment to the city’s diverse communities, serving at Mission and Taraval Stations, in the Gang Task Force, and running the Homicide division. Toney has most recently helped establish our new Professional Standards and Principled Policing bureau, the arm of the department that focuses on accountability and transparency,” said Lee.
Many San Franciscans took to Facebook to voice their opinions on the resignation. AJ+ Presenter and Producer Dena Takruri wrote on her wall, “About time. Tragic it took one more fatal police shooting to bring about this needed change. Grateful to the #Frisco5 who risked their lives on a prolonged hunger strike to wake this city and country up to the injustices committed by the SFPD. Rest in peace to those whose lives were taken by the people meant to protect and serve them. I love my city. SF deserves better. #SanFrancisco”
The San Francisco News tried to contact the San Francisco Police Department on the resignation, but did not hear back before print. Mayor Lee told reporters the goals he wanted for the future of the city.
“My fellow San Franciscans, we must push forward, harder than ever before, to reform the Police Department and restore trust with every community and keep our City safe,” said Mayor Lee.