City officials deny search for SFPD chief is 'rigged'

Top city officials are denying accusations that the search for a new San Francisco Police Chief is not legitimate or even “rigged”.

This comes after KTVU’s Dave Clark conducted an interview with Mayor Ed Lee, who called acting Chief Toney Chaplin, “my chief” and after the SF Examiner published a report that one candidate dropped out of the process, saying, he didn’t believe it was being conducted fairly.

In the KTVU Facebook Live interview, Lee praised Chaplin.

“I want to say strongly that he is my chief, and while we're looking and searching, we're going to do everything I can to support Chief Chaplin's management of this police department,” Lee said.
Some interpreted that as an endorsement for Chaplin, calling into question the vetting process for the next chief.

Chaplin, however didn’t see Lee’s comments as confirmation that he’d be the city’s next top cop.

“If you're in a position where you're the interim and you don't have the support of the mayor, you shouldn't be there. That's my philosophy. I don't see where the controversy is,” Chaplin said.
Lee agreed.

“I am just without condition supportive of our interim chief in every effort to lead these reforms and make sure they happen,” said Lee. “Now the search is a separate question 45 the search I have to honor process that the police commission is leading and conducting.”

According to the San Francisco Examiner, one candidate, former San Francisco Police Captain John Feeney, who is now chief of Chico State University’s police department, dropped out of the competition because he believes the process is “fixed”.

“I think it would be a mistake for someone to opt out at this point given that we haven't even selected applicants to interview,” said Suzy Loftus, president of the San Francisco Police Commission.

The Police Commission says the city is committed to a nationwide search.

“I guess I would chalk a lot of this up to putting the cart before the horse. We have applications still open till August 31st,” said Loftus. “We want great candidates to apply, the commission will interview and then we'll pass on three names to the mayor."

Former Chief Greg Suhr resigned in May after several deadly officer-involved shootings. The city hopes to have a permanent chief in place by this fall.