Open letter to Mayor Lee, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and the Police Commission from Organizations and Businesses throughout the City:
Chief Greg Suhr committed himself to a lifetime of public service on behalf of the residents of San Francisco and we commend him for that dedication. He was one in a line of progressive chiefs who have overseen the department over the last 25 years; men and women representing a range of backgrounds and experience, building one of the most diverse departments in America. And no Chief appointed more women and minorities to the command staff to oversee the Department than Chief Suhr.
While many of us do not necessarily agree that Chief Suhr’s resignation from the Department was the best course of action, we recognize there is a critical need for outreach and reform to address the very real pain that some are feeling in our city. We also recognize that changing the culture of a police force requires more than just a new chief, and it can’t be done overnight. It takes the support of elected officials, community leaders and rank and file officers.
Our police department, like so many others, needs change. Whether it is being better trained to handle the mentally ill on our streets, to respect diverse cultural differences or to walk beats and protect people and property, it’s clear it is time to increase training and get rid of outdated approaches.
Independent reports will help guide reform, but only if our elected officials continue recent steps to bring the Department into the 21st Century. While San Francisco has taken the lead in implementing progressive police practices, such as crisis intervention and de-escalation tactics, the Commission has dragged its feet on providing important non-lethal tools such as Tasers. And while San Francisco’s population continues to grow by thousands of people a year, the police department has not been fully staffed in decades. The Mayor and Board of Supervisors must continue to fully fund over the next two years the police academy classes necessary to bring into the Police Department the hundreds of new officers this city needs. This will ensure that the Department will remain a force of committed men and women who will be the most diverse, best trained officers in the City’s history.
We have lost a Chief of Police who had been calling for reforms, proposing reforms and implementing reforms. Like the vast majority of San Franciscans, we salute Chief Suhr for over three decades of exemplary public service, a career he can be proud of, a career that benefited all San Franciscans.
San Francisco Chamber of Commerce
Alliance for Jobs and Sustainable Growth
Building Owners and Managers Association of San Francisco
Fillmore Merchants Association
Greater Geary Boulevard Merchants and Property Owners Association
Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association
North East Mission Business Association
Northern California District Council of Laborers Local 261
Operating Engineers Local Union No. 3
Outer Sunset Merchant and Professional Association
People of Parkside Sunset
Polk District Merchants Association
Sacramento Street Merchants Association
San Francisco Apartment Association
San Francisco Council of District Merchants Associations
South of Market Business Association
United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America Local Union No. 22
West Portal Merchants Association