New Chief, Old Chief - May 18, 2016 - SF Weekly
SF Weekly

New Chief, Old Chief

The Frisco 5 — the hunger strikers who starved themselves from April 21 to May 7 in an attempt to shame Mayor Ed Lee into firing police Chief Greg Suhr — drew international attention to San Francisco, but ultimately did not get what they wanted. Suhr is still chief and Lee is still in Suhr's corner. However, the Frisco 5 did convince four members of the Board of Supervisors to join them in calling for Suhr's ouster.

But it's not entirely clear what a victory would look like. Lee is still mayor, and the mayor appoints the chief, whether Suhr exits — as he may do this year, after his $270,000-a-year pension fully vests — or whether he is fired (which is highly unlikely to happen). If and when Suhr does leave, Lee is said to be eyeing two men as possible replacements: Deputy Chief Garret Tom and Deputy Chief Toney Chaplin. Of the two, Chaplin is younger and more of a reformer. (He is also black.) Tom, who would be S.F.'s second Asian-American chief if elevated, is older, more established, and more of a go-along guy, police experts say.

All this means even if Suhr goes, not much is likely to change overnight. The reforms Suhr is putting in place would continue under any new chief — because they're supported by Lee. If the Frisco 5 really want change, they may want to work on recalling the mayor.