Meet Your New SF Police Chief, Greg Suhr

Photo: SFPD

Good profile of new SFPD Chief Greg Suhr by Matier & Ross in today’s Chron. M&R describe his career as a “rollercoaster.”

The ups:

Suhr’s most recent command was in the high-crime Bayview district, where homicides have dropped nearly 50 percent since he took over as station-house commander in October 2009…

He was also the most popular pick at town hall meetings that Lee has held since taking office in January, the mayor said. “I’d have to say that 3 out of 4 said they wanted Greg,” Lee said…

Of the three (candidates), Suhr had the deepest history with the department. He’s been a captain at the Mission District station as well as at Bayview, and has been a deputy chief for operations. He’s been a patrol commander and worked in the narcotics division and as a patrol cop.

(More on his Bayview success in this Chron article.) The downs:

What kept Suhr from being a no-brainer pick for Lee is that he also comes with the most baggage of the three finalists.

Most notably, when he was deputy chief, Suhr was one of the command staff members indicted in 2003 for allegedly conspiring to obstruct the investigation into the infamous Fajitagate affair, in which three off-duty cops allegedly beat up two men for their Mexican takeout.

A judge ultimately dropped the Fajitagate indictments as baseless, but the story was front-page news for months.

Suhr also was reprimanded by then-Chief Heather Fong in 2009 for not following department timelines in reporting a domestic-violence incident involving a female friend who called him to say she had been attacked by her boyfriend.

The woman said Suhr had actually saved her life and gotten her to go to police. Nonetheless, Fong concluded that Suhr should have filed a report on the incident personally and in a timely manner, and she demoted him from deputy chief.

And if you’re familiar with the HBO show “The Wire,” sounds like Suhr’s career trajectory hit a McNulty-like nadir under former chief Heather Fong. From the Chronicle in 2005:

San Francisco police Deputy Chief Greg Suhr, who pulled the riot squad from the streets during an anarchist protest last week just before a beat officer suffered a fractured skull in a confrontation with demonstrators, was reassigned Thursday and is likely to be moved out of the department.

Police Chief Heather Fong said she was transferring Suhr, a 24-year veteran officer, out of the 1,400-officer patrol bureau and recommending him for a job as chief of security for the city’s Public Utilities Commission.

The Examiner adds additional details to Suhr’s appointment:

Lee reportedly interviewed three candidates — Suhr, Cmdr. Daniel Mahoney and an unnamed outside candidate — after being forwarded the names by the Police Commission earlier this month.

Suhr is considered the favorite of the police union, which had been pushing Lee to appoint someone from inside the department….

In interviews Tuesday, colleagues said good things about Suhr.

Here’s Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, chair of the board’s Public Safety Committee, praising the decision to KRON TV. Mirkarimi calls Suhr a “cop’s cop.”

Related

  • molleresqua

    Love the reference to ‘The Wire.’ Great post, Jon. Thanks!

  • DaffyDuck

    Congratulations! The city finally picks somebody who knows their fellow officers and the city intimately!! Way To Go, Greg!!

Author

Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks writes mostly on film for KQED Arts. He is also an online editor and writer for KQED's daily news blog, News Fix. Jon is a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor