New sheriff takes office; old sheriff officially suspended 

click to enlarge New Sheriff Vicki Hennessy was sworn in on Wednesday. - MIKE KOOZMIN/SPECIAL TO THE SF EXAMINER
  • Mike Koozmin/Special to The SF Examiner
  • New Sheriff Vicki Hennessy was sworn in on Wednesday.

It’s now official — there is a new sheriff in town.

Sheriff Vicki Hennessy was sworn in by Mayor Ed Lee Wednesday afternoon, soon after suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi was served with official misconduct charges by the City Attorney’s Office.

The mayor gave Mirkarimi 24 hours to resign following his sentencing Monday in a high-profile domestic violence case involving his wife. But the sheriff said his crime doesn’t prevent him from doing his job effectively and doesn’t fit the definition of official misconduct in the City Charter.

Hennessy, a 35-year law enforcement veteran, is The City’s first-ever female sheriff. Neither she nor the mayor took questions Wednesday, but after the oath of office was conducted, both briefly commented.

“This is not necessarily a celebration of me becoming sheriff, but it is me agreeing to be sheriff so we can get the work done,” she said.

Hennessy, 59, was rumored to have considered running in last year’s sheriff’s race, but ultimately supported Capt. Paul Miyamoto, Mirkarimi’s chief campaign rival, who enjoyed greater support from rank-and-file department members.

She most recently served as a director in the Department of Emergency Services and Homeland Security, but retired last year. She also has served in a plethora of positions in the Sheriff’s Department, including oversight of the shuttered San Bruno Jail as California’s youngest-ever captain in 1983.

Depending on results of the upcoming removal proceedings for Mirkarimi, Hennessy could hold the position until November 2013 before having to seek election for the remainder of the current term, which lasts until 2016.

Unless he resigns, Mirkarimi will face a hearing before the Ethics Commission and a final decision on his removal by the Board of Supervisors. His ouster would need approval from nine of 11 members of the board, on which he served for nearly eight years.

According to the Department of Elections, if Mirkarimi is removed or resigns by July 9 — 120 days before the next general election — Hennessy or another mayoral appointee would have to run for the office this November. If a vacancy occurs after July 9, Mirkarimi’s replacement would face voters in November 2013.

For now, Hennessy is getting a better welcome from the Deputy Sheriffs’ Association than did Mirkarimi, who didn’t receive its endorsement.

“She brings a wealth of experience,” President Don Wilson said. “That’s something the deputies look at. Do you have the experience to lead us?”

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Dan Schreiber

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