Earlier this year, the City held a special hearing on the matter of dance clubs and I attended with hundreds of others to hear testimony of citizens concerned with the matter. I stepped out of the overcrowded hearing room to walk about the ante chamber where the metal detectors and the officers who monitor entrants to City Hall are stationed. It was a dark, rainy night, before the time change, and, as everyone was inside at the hearing, the lobby was empty.
I took their spare time to tell several of the officers at City Hall that I hoped to be their next boss; that I was running for Mayor of San Francisco. I asked for their thoughts on the needs of the City and the Department when Officer Gregory Suhr arrived and joined the discussion. We chatted for a time about my policies and ideas and I asked for the officers’ support.
It was then that Officer Suhr said he was considering running for Sheriff!
We both knew that Former Supervisor Ross Mirakarimi is running for Sheriff and, after a beat, Suhr said, “Can I count on your support?” and we laughed together about it.
I remembered Fajitagate, but didn’t bring it up. I told Officer Suhr I would look into his record, but nodded, sure – anybody with as much experience as he has in Community Policing is a good candidate for top policing jobs.
As we chatted together we watched Board President David Chiu stalk the steps of City Hall under the eaves to stay out of the rain, talking on his cell-phone for a few moments before taking off to some important campaign stop. An officer said, “There’s your competition.” I said, “He’s not my competition. I have no problem with him. I’m the best man for the job.” To their credit, they didn’t laugh.
Today, Officer Gregory Suhr ascends to the position of Police Chief in San Francisco and I offer my congratulations to the City for making the right choice. The City needs smart, local police who know the streets and the force to help manage what is going to be a period of severe cuts and changes in policy.
It would be easy to say that Former Supervisor Mirakarimi shares my values and so I would want him to be a Sheriff to help reform what I think are issues with policing, but it’s a wholly other thing to get officers to follow such leadership.
Officer Suhr has some critics (a loud one is the commenter in the link I’ve posted below) but the reality is being a community police officer in SF is difficult and problems and conflicts are inevitable. I am thankful for the experiences he has and upon meeting him, feel confident he has learned from them.
Gregory Suhr is likely to make for a good Police Chief because he knows his history means he will be scrutinized closely. I hope he will implement what he has learned – from the mistakes and the successes – to aid and educate the men and women working under him.
Here’s a good link to a piece in support of Police Chief Suhr by Francisco Da Costa of Environmental Justice Advocacy.
Congratulations Police Chief Suhr and best of luck.
[oh, and taking a page from our City Attorney, “this in no way equals an endorsement in the Sheriff’s race!”]