Former San Francisco police sergeant and spokesman passes away 

click to enlarge Neville Gittens
  • Neville Gittens, a former SFPD officer and spokesman passed away on Sunday.

A former longtime San Francisco police officer and department spokesman has passed away, Sgt. Danielle Newman said Monday.

Neville Gittens died Sunday morning in Oakland. He had been suffering from an undisclosed illness for quite some time, police said.

Gittens had served with the San Francisco Police Department for just over 30 years, Newman said.

Gittens spent the last several years of his service at the airport. Throughout his career, he rose up from patrol officer to sergeant and retired at the rank of lieutenant. He originally served out of Central Station, then spent time in the department's gang task force unit, its domestic violence unit, the administrative unit and public affairs before retiring out of the airport in March of 2011, Newman said.

Police Chief Greg Suhr had nothing but kind words on Gittens when he talked to The San Francisco Examiner on Tuesday.

"He was the consummate gentleman," Suhr said. "We're so sad right now, we can't even tell you."

The weekend was particularly hard on Suhr, who besides losing Gittens, lost another friend, much-loved San Francisco firefighter Daniel Armenta, who passed away Saturday. The City has lost "two of the greatest gentlemen that I've known," Suhr said. "My heart is broken."

"Both of these guys gave their lives to The City and they've both gone away too soon," he said.

Suhr's relationship with Gittens goes back to their days working at Central Station. "We broke in together," he said. "He could have given a class on being classy."

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