Updated 10:56 p.m.

San Francisco’s mayor announced Thursday afternoon that Greg Suhr, the city’s embattled police chief, has resigned.

Suhr’s leadership has been besieged with calls for his ouster following a series of controversial and deadly officer-involved shootings and multiple racist and homophobic text message scandals emerging from San Francisco police officers.

At a press conference late Thursday afternoon, Mayor Ed Lee said he asked Suhr to tender his resignation.

“The progress we’ve made has been meaningful, but it hasn’t been fast enough,” Lee said. “Not for me, and not for Greg.”


Video via San Francisco Examiner reporter Joe Fizgerald-Rodriguez

The announcement came hours after an officer fatally shot a young black woman while attempting to pull her from a wrecked car police believed was stolen.

Suhr said Thursday morning that another fatal shooting was “exactly the kind of thing with all the reforms we are trying to prevent.” He similarly questioned whether changes to the way officers are directed to approach lone suspects with knives were followed in the deadly shooting of Luis Gongora last month.

“Some of the reforms underway might have prevented or clarified today’s incident,” Lee said Thursday. “We need to turn these plans into actions.”

One organization largely seen as an impediment to those plans — the San Francisco Police Officers Association — said in a written statement Thursday evening that Suhr’s tenure as police chief “will go down as one of the most successful in the history of [the] San Francisco Police Department.”

“It is a great disappointment that he is departing the police force after having given so much of himself during a very difficult period,” POA President Martin Halloran said. “His retirement under pressure is an extreme loss to the department and the city. Chief Suhr, at the core, was and always will be a cop’s cop and dedicated to the men and women who don the uniform every day to serve and protect.”

Lee named Toney Chaplin, 47, as acting police chief. Chaplin is leaving his post as deputy chief of the Bureau of Professional Standards and Principled Policing. He was tasked with building the bureau and has worked in law enforcement for almost 27 years.

Some of Suhr’s toughest critics expressed sadness Thursday over the latest chapter for the city’s Police Department.

“It’s been a very difficult day,” Supervisor David Campos said. He joined Supervisor Jane Kim’s call last week for Lee to replace Suhr. “I’ve always liked Greg Suhr, and for a while I thought that maybe he could make the changes that are needed, but far too many things have happened under his leadership.”

Kim said Suhr has been a “dedicated public servant,” but the Police Department needs a new leader for an angry city to begin to heal.

“There is a tremendous amount of pain and division in our community today,” she said. “We need a leader who is going to be able to effectively implement the reforms that we want to see.”

Suhr’s departure followed a 17-day hunger strike that ended earlier this month with the hospitalization of five activists who abstained from solid food as they called for the former police chief’s firing over his handling of a series of fatal police shootings.

Edwin Lindo, a candidate for Campos’ seat, was one of the activists known as the “Frisco 5.”

“Never doubt the power of the community,” he said outside City Hall Thursday evening. “It is relentless, it is sophisticated, and we know what our demands are.”

Affiliated groups, including those that have organized around the fatal police shootings of Mario Woods, Amilcar Perez Lopez and Alejandro Nieto, reiterated that Suhr’s ouster was only one of their demands. They are still seeking stronger federal intervention in the department and murder charges for officers involved in several shootings.

  • sugarntasty

    Ed whom behind the sudden departure of Surh, you continue evade political. Interest Democrats using this only gain influence, reason economic disparity cause poverty to majority across “America” let’s. Address inept policies, SFPD has continue indifference upon income and diversity especially “LGBTQ” society how? When report crimes in “LGBTQ” never immediate response…oppose others response attentive is because of income we pay taxes. Racial profiling is apparent whom controlling “sweat shops” certainly not around Bayview,Fillmore and Hunter’s Point. Ed using color lines well define, if you mind to refine old boy antics of SFPD. Heather Fong excellent former chief force out by old boys, Surh ideal chief didn’t give a damn regarding inabilities fight crime. Murders of Paul Tam yes Japantown where advocacy from Fillmore innocent victim killed by criminals and gang members! Bryan Higgins killed Castro never caught murderer, was because Bryan was homeless Ed afraid of federal indictment involving your administration. SFPD are guilty aware I care not scared aware of my rights with attorney abuse of power landlords retaliation how saying tenants using verbal and physical threats! Inaccurate due Ellis act trying get incident to justify the abuse of authority when law enforcement approach they immediate believe landlords! Ed you kept this out of media why nice try and lies, now interim chief Chaplin as Ferguson,MO chief DeIrish Moss using to appease. Decadence of mayoral ineptitude Ed where going fight you Ellis on the ballots soon! What about 5 officers indicted grand larceny and racial remarks ideal placid SFPD nothing new. Ed your going change what, certainly diversity and renters rights fight is among residents where endure enough socialism! Ready for ballots soon, unity for improved San Francisco elated Surh is out! Car jacking has increased where investigation reports officers making high income repeal is essential Ed Lee!

Author

Alex Emslie

Alex Emslie is a criminal justice reporter at KQED. He covers policing policy, crime and the courts.

He left Colorado and a career as a carpenter in 2008 to study journalism at City College of San Francisco. He then graduated from San Francisco State University's journalism program with a minor in criminal justice studies. Prior to joining KQED in 2013, Alex freelanced for various news outlets including the Huffington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner and Bay Guardian.

Alex is proud of his work at KQED on a spike in fatal officer-involved shootings in Vallejo, which uncovered that a single officer shot and killed three suspects over the course of five months. Alex's work with a team at KQED on police encounters with people in psychiatric crisis was cited in amicus briefs before the U.S. Supreme Court. He received the Northern California Society of Professional Journalists Best Scoop award in 2015 for exposing a series of bigoted text messages swapped by San Francisco police officers. He was honored with 2010 San Francisco Peninsula Press Club and California Newspaper Publishers Association awards for breaking news reporting on the trial following the shooting of Oscar Grant. Email: aemslie@kqed.org. Twitter: @SFNewsReporter.

Author

Lisa Pickoff-White

Lisa Pickoff-White is KQED's data reporter. Lisa specializes in simplifying complex topics and bringing them to life through compelling visuals, including photography and data visualizations. She previously has worked at the Center for Investigative Reporting and other national outlets. Her work has been honored with awards from the Online News Association, Investigative Reporters and Editors, the Society of Professional Journalists and SXSW Interactive.  Follow: @pickoffwhite Email: lpickoffwhite@kqed.org

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