Tiburon police chief retires after confrontation with Black owners

The police chief of a wealthy San Francisco Bay Area town announced his retirement as the community reels over a confrontation between police and the Black owners of a business in town.

Tiburon police Chief Michael Cronin will step down Sept. 13, city manager Greg Chanis said Tuesday. Cronin has served 12 years at the helm of the department and logged over 50 years in public service.

The announcement came a week after a police sergeant resigned amid public backlash over a video in which he presses shopkeeper Yema Khalif and his wife Hawi Awash, both Black, to prove they had a right to be in their downtown store after hours, the Marin Independent Journal reported.

Tiburon police accused of racial profiling town’s Black-owned business owners

Chanis said Cronin’s departure was not connected to the incident and that the chief selected the retirement date to coincide with his military anniversary in 1966.

“He and I have been discussing the timing of his retirement for some time, but he only recently chose the date that corresponds with his entry into public service 54 years ago,” Chanis wrote in a news release.

Cronin, 72, was hired by the town in 2007 after he retired as San Rafael police chief in 2004. He did not respond to requests for comment.

He previously drew criticism in June for a press release that warned residents that Sausalito and Tiburon might be targets of unrest linked to a Marin City demonstration over the death of George Floyd during an arrest in Minneapolis. In the past two weeks, protesters in Tiburon called on Cronin to resign.

Activist Paul Austin said he believes the protests influenced Cronin’s decision to retire now.

“Hopefully, this may give him (an) opportunity to really reflect who he is today and really understand if this is the person he wants to be in (the) future, educate himself around the history that has negatively affected other people,” Austin said.

Marin County Undersheriff Jamie Scardina will serve as interim chief during the search to replaxe Cronin.