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Calling San Francisco's Silent Majority; Isn’t It Time to Send Some Inept Politicians Packing?

June 1, 2016
Martin Halloran SFPOA President

The actions taken by our elected officials following the tragic events of May 19, 2016 were a panderer’s delight; sacrificing a dedicated Chief of Police to appease a knot of noisy troublemakers.

There was a tragic loss of life on the streets of the city. Just like previous similar incidents, it was the result of an officer involved shooting. And just as in those previous cases, the death resulted from a failure to comply with lawful commands and an exhaustion by police of all reasonable options. Instead, those deceased persons chose to resist and assault the officers who were simply doing their jobs the way they were taught, using the tools issued to them, and following orders.

The last three Officer Involved Shootings in this city would not have occurred if those subjects complied with lawful police commands, dropped their weapons, and surrendered. They then would have had their due day in court, which is where these criminal matters need to be resolved in front of a Judge, not on the streets of the city. Also unknown to the officers, at the time, was the mental status and/or the level of narcotics that these individuals had ingested prior to these encounters.

The actions of our elected officials was to choose the politically expedient route by picking the closest scapegoat and throwing him under the proverbial bus. It appears that before this suspect was even declared deceased, the Mayor’s office was already on its second draft of a Press Release announcing the resignation of Chief Greg Suhr.

Chief Greg Suhr, a highly decorated 35-year veteran of the San Francisco Police Department, deserved better than this. He is a man who has dedicated his adult life to the safety and protection of the people of San Francisco. He has initiated more youth programs -- such as the Summer Jobs Program and the After School Park and Rec Program -- and has done more outreach to faith-based leaders and community organizations, especially as Captain in the Bayview District; than any other chief. For him to be forced into retirement due to political pressure and self preservation, by the Mayor, was a slap in the face. Chief Suhr was not not deserving of this sort of treatment.

If you look at Greg Suhr's record and service in the department, he has saved more lives on the street, offered more educational advancements to our youth, and has advanced this department into the 21st century with new tactics, more so than any critic on the Board of Supervisors or on the Police Commission. Their collective armchair quarterbacking of Chief Suhr's performance over the past 6-months is political grandstanding and selfish acts of political survival.

I have known Greg Suhr my entire 27-years in this fine department. I have worked with him and for him, so I feel that I am qualified to vouch for his character, his honesty, his morals, and his deep commitment to the mission of public safety. It is all beyond reproach. He is undoubtedly one of the best Chiefs this department has ever had in the past 40 years. 


Interim Chief Toney Chaplin

So now we have an Interim Chief. I know Toney Chaplin and he is one outstanding cop. He has worked in a number of uniform and plainclothes assignments in his 26-year career, and had advanced to Deputy Chief before he was appointed to the interim position. He has excelled in all of his assignments and has earned the respect of his fellow officers. I contacted Toney on the evening of May 19th and offered him the full support of the POA.

Unfortunately, due to politics, poor Toney has been thrown into the deep end of the pool with very little notice. The question I have of those who appointed him is this: Will you throw him a lifeline when the next OIS happens, or will you be throwing him a bag of rocks and watch him sink? I ask this because there will be another OIS in this city, sooner or later, much like every major city in this country. It doesn't matter who is sitting in the big chair and leading the department. Another OIS is inevitable. Why? Because career criminals will always commit crimes, they will never want to go back to jail, they will always resist arrest and try to flee – especially to an infamous “Sanctuary City.”  Career criminals and other opportunists will always assault cops with guns, knifes, machetes, and try to run over them with vehicles. The cops will then do what they have been trained to do. They will protect themselves, their fellow officers, and the public from the imminent threat of great bodily harm or death and if that leads to deadly force then that is what is going to happen.

We now have the "Frisco Five" who led a so called "hunger strike" and demanded that the Mayor fire Chief Suhr. They continued this "hunger strike" while they were being nourished by fellow activists at Mission Station. They finally decided to declare victory when the media lost interest in their fictitious "hunger strike" and when their GoFundMe account raised enough money for them to have an all-expense paid dinner at Benihana's Restaurant.

The antics of the "Frisco Five" along with their fellow activists seem to have captured the hearts and minds of some on the Board of Supervisors who have previously expressed and demonstrated their disdain for the San Francisco Police Department. David Campos and John Avalos, who are both termed out of office with no other political office to hold, publicly came out against Chief Suhr. They were joined by Eric Mar and Jane Kim who is desperately trying to garnish any momentum in her failing campaign for the State Senate. These members of the Board of Supervisors have no standing when it comes to the hiring or firing of the Chief of Police. Per the City Charter, that responsibility rest with the Mayor and the Police Commission but yet it does not them stop them from siding with the vocal minority, who are mostly not residents of San Francisco, crying for the removal of Chief Suhr.

Well, the Mayor gave them what they demanded, and by doing so he has also emboldened and empowered these anarchists. So now what San Francisco? What's next? Will they demand for the Mayors removal? This begs the question: Who is running this city and who are our elected representatives answering to? The squeaky wheel from a vocal minority of non-city residents, or from those who live and work and raise their families here and who have voted for our elected officials?

My answers would certainly not be popular with the "Frisco Five" or with Campos, Avalos, Mar, and Kim. It simply does not fit their predetermined agendas regardless of the facts of any of the recent OIS cases. More importantly I believe that there are many San Franciscans who feel as though things have gone too far in our fair city. The silent majority of San Franciscans who, per our polling numbers from March 2016 of registered voters, clearly support the rank and file in the police department. Okay San Francisco, now what?