Greg Suhr sworn in as new SF police chief

April 27, 2011 7:02:41 PM PDT
There's a new police chief in San Francisco -- a man with decades of experience with the San Francisco Police Department and his share of ups and downs in the department.

"Today, I've chosen the best candidate..." said Mayor Ed Lee.

Lee's choice was the 30-year veteran Capt. Greg Suhr, a cop who's done just about every job in the department from a beat cop on the midnight shift to now chief. Suhr was the resounding choice of the rank and file.

"From this moment, the morale is going to go straight up," said San Francisco Police Insp. John Monroe.

"He's worked the streets. He knows what every patrolman has to go through," said San Francisco Police Ofc. John Gallagher.

The cops on the streets said it was important to have one of their own and not an outsider as chief -- and that's what Suhr is.

"I'm a fourth-generation born and raised San Franciscan, so I'm a local hire," said Suhr.

He's also been battle tested. During his three decades, he's had his ups and downs. In 2003, he was one of the command officers accused of covering up the Fajitagate controversy in which three off duty officers were accused of beating up two civilians.

The indictments were ultimately dropped as baseless. In 2005, Suhr lost his job as head of the patrol division after he pulled riot police out of a demonstration that left an officer injured. It turned out police radio problems resulted in the mixed signals.

Two years ago, he was demoted from deputy chief to captain for failing to immediately report a domestic violence incident involving a female friend and her boyfriend. The woman later said Suhr had saved her life by convincing her to go to the police.

The president of the police officers union, Gary Delagnes, is one of Suhr's biggest supporters. He said, "Most of the allegations against Greg were nonsense. I'm very happy the mayor was able to see through that."

Suhr told ABC7 his encounters with adversity were life's lessons.

"I think I've taken away lessons from each one that's made me a better person, better police officer, and I think it will serve me well as chief of police," said Suhr.

And as chief, the first thing he says he'll do is knock out a locked door at the Hall of Justice, on the fifth floor, that keeps the public away from the chief's office.

"That'll be blocked open on the first day," said Suhr.

Suhr proved to have a lot of supporters in San Francisco and evidence of that was seen in the large number of people who came to his swearing-in ceremony. There were judges, politicians, community activists who attended.

He is also a proven and capable administrator. With his stint as captain of the Bayview station, the homicide rate dropped 50 percent. Still, he has a lot of challenges ahead as chief -- mainly the budget.


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