Pressure mounting on SF Police Chief to step down

- Four San Francisco Supervisors now want Police Chief Greg Suhr to step down.

This comes in the wake of a four deadly police shootings of men of color over the past two years and a racist texting scandal.

Meanwhile, a group called the "Frisco Five" renewed its crusade to get Chief Suhr fired.

This morning, four of the five members, who went on a 17-day hunger strike in protest of SFPD, spoke in front of Mission Police Station. Cristina Gutierrez did not appear as friends say she is still recovering from the hunger strike.

"It's just the beginning," said Edwin Lindo, a SF supervisor candidate from the Mission District. "Now we have the Frisco 500 and Frisco 5,000."

Joining their ranks are four City Supervisors: Jane Kim, Eric Mar, John Avalos and David Campos.

Until now the Chief had the public support of the entire board. Just last week, Supervisor Campos told protesters that firing Chief Suhr was not the answer and that racial bias would still exist within the police department. So why the about-face?

Supervisor Jane Kim told KTVU, "The recent blue ribbon task force report that came out with our three independent judges, which identified severe systematic deficiencies...convinced me that actually it's time for us to look for a new chief."

The panel, launched by District Attorney George Gascon found SFPD lacked transparency in its discipline, was arbitrary in its hiring and biased in policing communities of color.

"I think the Chief has had a lot of chances," said Supervisor John Avalos. "I no longer have confidence in Chief Suhr. He has been a huge distraction, how long have there been demonstrations been going on?"

But other supervisors, as well as NAACP SF Chapter President, Reverend Amos Brown are unwavering in their support of Chief Suhr.

"This is all pure politics, sort of headline-grabbing behavior," said Supervisor Scott Wiener, who supports the Chief. "The fact is that Chief Suhr, the department under his leadership, is moving forward with reform much needed reforms."

Protests against Chief Suhr have been going on since December. They were spurred by a racist texting scandal and by the deadly police shootings of four men of color in the past two years. In those cases, however, one was carrying a stun gun, the other three had knives. The most recent shooting of a homeless man, Luis Gongora, was the "tipping point" according to protesters which prompted the "Frisco Five" to go on a 17-day hunger strike.

"Chief Suhr is the person to lead our police department moving forward, " said Supervisor Mark Farrell, who supports Suhr. "He's dedicated his past 30 years to serving the residents of San Francisco. He's done an amazing job leading a department through a very difficult period of time and from my perspective, the irony is, I don't think there's anyone in a better position to lead the reforms that are going to happen than Chief Suhr himself."

Wiener echoed that sentiment saying, "Firing the Chief is not going to make the reform happen any faster. In fact, it will slow down the reform. We would have to engage in national search for a new chief that will take a long time, we'll have to have interim leadership which is never as strong as an existing chief of police."

But Kim and Avalos say now is the time to look for new Chief. "I think that even if he wants to," said Kim, "[Suhr] is not going to be given the opportunity or the mandate to make these changes.

Mayor Ed Lee has said he has no intention of firing Chief Suhr, while Suhr himself has said that he is committed to implementing reforms with regards to use of force and de-escalation tactics within SFPD.

Supervisor President London Breed could not be reached for comment today but KTVU has learned that Breed returned a $500 donation from the SF Police Officer's Association.

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