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Close Encounters October 2021

October 1, 2021

Two months ago, we reported that over 45 officers had submitted their retirement papers and were in the process of leaving.

We recently heard that there may be another group of officers also getting ready to leave in early 2022 – just 3 months from now.

If that is the case the vacancies will make it even harder for the police administration to provide for an effective policing strategy without the required number of personnel available.

It also means that the SFPD will quite possibly need to hire additional candidates and try to get them through a months-long Academy curricula, a Field Training Officer Program, and complete a probationary period hoping they hang on long enough to pass all the tests.

The Department, however, doesn’t have a great record on doing that . . . and that’s because it’s a very difficult job.

How difficult? Just ask Officer Thomas Lee and Officer Yuriy Torchiyan.

Officer Lee and Officer Torchiyan were on uniform patrol in a marked unit south on Polk Street between Eddy and Turk when they heard multiple gunshots. Gunshots were also reported nearby by another police unit. The officers came upon a scene with 1 individual shot and laying on the ground and another subject standing nearby with a gun in his hand. Once he saw the officers he dropped his weapon but refused to comply with their orders. The officers tried to handcuff him but he resisted and was now trying to retrieve the weapon he had just dropped. Multiple police units were racing to the scene having heard the officers’ calls for back-up. The suspect was subsequently handcuffed and arrested for the vicious assault he had perpetrated.

Captain Thomas Harvey recognized the outstanding bravery of Officer Lee and Officer Torchiyan and recommended them for medals of valor citing: “The objectives of the officers were to apprehend an armed suspect in a shooting and to secure the scene for medical personnel to respond. These objectives were sufficient to justify the risks taken by these officers.”

Captain Harvey’s memorandum was submitted over a year ago to the Police Commission.

Note to Police Commission: Maybe recognition for a job well done once in a while probably wouldn’t hurt and might even keep Department morale up so people would hang around.

Just a thought . . . 

Sergeant Daniel Solorzano is also no stranger to danger after he was involved in a felony take-down in the Tenderloin neighborhood. He was working a plainclothes detail when all of a sudden he noticed an individual in front of him extend his arms that were holding a gun and shoot in the direction of a victim across the street who then fell to the ground. The suspect then put his firearm in his waistband and walked away.

Sergeant Solorzano immediately notified Dispatch and developed a plan to deal with this individual especially keeping in mind the number of people on the sidewalks and those driving by and the high likelihood that the suspect would use his gun again if he was confronted by a single plainclothes officer.

The Sergeant followed him up Golden Gate Avenue to Larkin and then watched as he deposited the gun he was carrying into a garbage bin nearby. That’s exactly when the cavalry arrived and the shooter was taken into custody.

Captain Thomas Harvey submitted a request for a Medal of Honor for Sergeant Daniel Solorzano citing, “Sergeant Solorzano acted immediately upon observing the life-threatening incident that occurred in front of him. He demonstrated outstanding awareness and great discipline to not immediately confront the armed suspect which would have put him at a grave tactical disadvantage and, undoubtedly, would have also put the public in the area at risk.”

This incident occurred on 11/22/20. Capt. Harvey submitted his request for a Medal of Honor on 11/25/20.

It’s also time to honor Sergeant Daniel Solorzano with a medal! 

Officer Christopher Anderson and Officer Nicholas Billings were patrolling the Sunnydale Public Housing sector when they heard what sounded like gunfire. They alerted Dispatch and located a person nearby who pointed out what appeared to be a gunshot victim from the earlier confrontation laying face down in the street. The officers called for medical assistance and then noticed that the subject still had a gun in his hand and was moving slowly.

The officers were constantly calling out to the subject ordering him to relinquish his weapon while remaining calm and continuing their assessment of the situation realizing it was unreasonable and unsafe for them to approach this individual while he had a firearm in his hand.

And then Sergeant Michael Young, Sergeant Eric Lau, Officer Christopher Anderson, Officer Nicholas Billings, Officer Anthony Powers, and Officer Edgar Parker formed a plan to stack as near as they could using whatever cover available and then approach somewhat exposed to the individual when he finally dropped his firearm.

Video footage from nearby revealed that the subject the officers were trying to help was in a shoot-out with 2 other individuals resulting in the injuries he sustained.

There was a recommendation from Captain Christopher Woon prepared and sent to the Police Commission asking “that the following members:

Sgt. Lau, Sgt. Young, Off. Anderson, Off. Billings, Officer Powers, and Off. Parker be considered for a Medal of Valor as their actions demonstrated outstanding bravery where the risk of danger and/or death posed an immediate threat to them and the community.”

That request for award consideration has been sitting on someone’s desk in an office downtown for over a year . . .

All of these officers deserve better.

We mentioned at the beginning of this article that it’s difficult to find people to fill police officer vacancies because it’s a very difficult job to do.

And it is. What other job requires you wear a gun to work?

And, in each one of these scenarios the officers involved were faced off with people using a gun to kill another person. Fortunately, these were skilled officers who responded to each call and their experience served the community well.

The San Francisco Police Commission should be proud to honor these brave officers especially after they put their lives on the line every day. Ignoring the work they do and delaying the honors they should receive is unacceptable and should not be an issue for a world-class agency.

It’s a very easy fix Commissioners.

Stay safe