Supervisor David Campos at Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meting addressing the protesters. Photo by Lola M. Chavez

Supervisor David Campos today joined Supervisor Jane Kim in calling for Police Chief Greg Suhr to step down over mounting citywide tensions regarding allegations of systemic racism and the misuse of force within the police department.

Supervisors John Avalos and Eric Mar also called for the replacement of Chief Suhr later on Wednesday, bringing to four the number of supervisors who are calling for a new police chief.

Just a week ago when the so-called Frisco Five hunger strikers addressed the Board of Supervisors after an 800-strong march to City Hall, Campos said firing the police chief would do little to advance systemic reform of the department.

On Wednesday, Campos said multiple calls for the police chief’s job have turned the conversation on systemic reform into a “circus” and that such reform “is not going to be implemented by Chief Suhr because Chief Suhr has become a distraction.”

Campos said he changed his position after reading preliminary findings of a review panel released on Monday, which criticized the police department for systemic problems of racial bias and arbitrary discipline. 

The Blue Ribbon Panel, consisting of three judges and seven law firms who volunteered their time, was assembled by District Attorney George Gascón to scrutinize police practices.

“For me the Blue Ribbon Panel is a game changer,” Campos said on Wednesday. “I don’t see how [Suhr] can remain as chief of police and implement the changes needed. At a minimum there needs to be a new head of the police department.”

Campos questioned Mayor Ed Lee on the preliminary findings yesterday during a Board of Supervisors meeting, asking the mayor to fund an independent unit within the District Attorney’s Office dedicated to police shootings. The mayor said he would not take a stand because he had not yet read the findings.

The panel found that the department conducts “stop and frisk” searches and failed to internally review bias following the 2015 revelation that police officers were sending racist text messages.

The panel also found that discipline within the department lacks transparency, hiring and promotion practices are biased, and data and use-of-force policies are antiquated.

Supervisor Kim called for the police chief’s firing just hours earlier.

“The reality is that as long as Chief Suhr continues to lead this department, as long as we focus on City Hall politics rather than the best interests of the city, we will be unable to truly address the very serious problems raised by this report and the very serious concerns raised by residents of San Francisco,” Kim said in a written statement.

Campos said the findings were scathing.

“This is an indictment of the head of the police department and frankly this is an indictment of the mayor,” he said. The Board of Supervisors should take the lead in crafting police reform legislation, Campos said, because the mayor has been slow to do so.

He mentioned de-escalation training, body cameras, the creation of a public advocate, and changes to use-of-force policies, but also said systemic reform would require a cultural change that, so far, has proved elusive.

“The jury’s still out in terms of what it’s going to take,” Campos added, but said that the city had reached a “perfect storm” following the hunger strike of a group now known as the Frisco Five, multiple protests in their name, and the blue-ribbon panel findings, which he called “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

“This will hopefully create the political pressure needed to push the systemic reform needed,” he said.

When asked specifically about the impact of the Frisco Five hunger strikers, Campos said they had played a role alongside other forces.

“I think that everyone has played a role,” Campos said. “All of that has helped.”

Kim urged the mayor and police commission to begin looking for Suhr’s replacement just two hours earlier on Wednesday.

“Many are calling for the Chief to be fired at once. I believe we could actually do worse than Chief Suhr, which is why we must begin this process at once so we can make sure the next chief can lead our department, reform it and do so in a way that rebuilds the community trust so vital to public safety,” she wrote.

Campos said he supports a national search for Suhr’s replacement but wanted it to happen quickly and hoped there would be a suitable interim chief in the meantime.

“I think we need to have a national search but we need to make sure this happens quickly,” Campos added.

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9 Comments

  1. Thank You David Campos !

    Truly the Blue Ribbon Panel’s report is a game changer.

  2. Chief Greg Suhr is a 4th generation San Franciscan, born, raised and educated in San Francisco. Neither Jane Kim nor David Campos are from SF but are using SF a bitch to climb the political ladder to Sacramento. Yes, SF government is corrupt and has been since the gold rush: it manages unfortunately to get rid of the good people, either by a bullet or political maneuvering. This time I implore the people of this city to get rid of Jane Kim and David Campos and keep Greg Suhr.

  3. Again, Campos is grandstanding. I hate it. He is a lousy supervisor. If only he would support the police occasionally and work with them in allowing them to arrest the filth and crime going on in the Mission, and allow them to keep the streets safe and orderly where we live with our kids, then most all these police crimes would never happen.

    It’s a fact that when you repair the broken windows, arrest the vagrants, and keep order, the larger crimes don’t get a chance to form a foothold. All the studies show that. As it is now, the bums have taken over in the Mission, and the police–who are not at all blame free certainly–are sent into a stressed out crazy world that has already gotten out of control, where they feel under attack, and then they over-react. It is a two way street.

    So what are you going to do, arrest the chief of police, just like the last chief was forced out, and think this is going to help at all? Force out a 4th generation San Franciscan and let the Harvard educated idiot with no street smarts, who doesn’t live on these streets (I do) but up in his little hovel in Bernal where he doesn’t have to live with the bad stuff?

    I am with the protesters in spirit, but it practical terms, safe streets, safe families, and order are the first step in the Mission. My neighborhood. Which I love. More Police training is the second step. More foot patrols and tasers, less guns follow. Do that, and you won’t have cop shootings.

    The cops are not out of control as much as the streets in the Mission are.

  4. They don’t let you correct typos… I meant to type “What are you going to do, force out the chief of police…”

    1. Yes that is excatly what they are going to do ! He needs to go ! #firechiefsuhr #fuckchiefsuhr

  5. The comments on this article can’t help but to re-remind me of all of my friends who say “don’t read the comments.”

    Shaming the homeless and most vulnerable into conditions that are event worse for them does nothing good for this city. If you believe that, live in a less tolerant place. San Francisco may have a tough level of corruption, but if you’re looking for corruption at its worst look at the establishment and big money-before-the-people establishment in Ed Lee, Scott Wiener, Chief Suhr, etc.

    1. Brad, stop with the racism. No need for this. We need everyone to be equal and treated with respect and dignity.

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