San Francisco police Chief Greg Suhr has plenty on plate, ex-top cops say 

Whether it’s avoiding conflicts of interest, marrying conflicting political allegiances or keeping crime and homicides down, former San Francisco police chiefs have a lot of advice for San Francisco newest top cop, The City’s Greg Suhr.

Suhr confronts a variety of challenges at the Police Department from Day 1. Some of the most immediate concerns were summed up by recent police Chief George Gascón, who’s now district attorney.

The No. 1 concern is keeping crime down, Gascón said, although Suhr also will have to continue to reform the department, deal with videos from the Henry Hotel that allegedly show warrantless searches and confront budget cuts.

“It’s going to be complicated,” Gascón said. “I think what is important for all of us, and I really mean the entire community, is that we really need to rally around the chief of police and the Police Department.”

But Suhr should keep his eye on bigger-picture issues as well, according to Tony Ribera, who served as chief between 1992 and 1996. During his swearing in, Suhr was surrounded by a number of political players, such as Chinatown powerbroker Rose Pak.

“I think that the one thing any police chief has to be cognizant of is inappropriate political influence,” Ribera said.

“You might have people ringing your doorbell who will ask you to do them favors. You have to let it be known that this is the way it is across the board. You have to be fair. You can’t do one thing for Rose Pak and another thing for Tony Ribera.”

With Suhr’s appointment, “morale goes up tremendously at the department,” said former Mayor Frank Jordan, who was police chief from 1986 to 1990.

“What he has to do now, though, is walk a tightrope between all the procedures and policies he would like to implement, and also to make sure that he maintains some of the other more progressive moves that have become popular with the community,” Jordan said.

“I think he can do it,” Jordan said. “He sees this as a real opportunity to prove what he can do.”

bbegin@sfexaminer.com

 

Well-wishers

“What he has to do now is walk a tightrope between all the procedures and policies he would like to implement, and also to make sure that he maintains some of the other more progressive moves that have become popular with the community.”
Frank Jordan, chief from 1986-90

“I think that the one thing any police chief has to be cognizant of is inappropriate political influence. You have to be fair. You can’t do one thing for Rose Pak and another thing for Tony Ribera.”
Tony Ribera, chief from 1992-96

“I think what is important for all of us, and I really mean the entire community, is that we really need to rally around the chief of police and the Police Department.”
George Gascón, chief from 2009-11

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Brent Begin

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