Greg Suhr: Was the New Police Chief a Bargaining Chip?

Categories: Politics
Suhr was worth millions
Mayor Ed Lee has finally chosen Greg Suhr, a veteran cop long attached to the good ol' boy network, as San Francisco's next chief of police. And why wouldn't he pick Suhr? That's who the San Francisco police union wanted.

Not to say that Suhr is the wrong choice. On the contrary: Everyone seems to like him well enough, despite his rocky career, which includes an indictment in the Fajitagate scandal. And let's not forget the humiliating smackdown then-Chief Heather Fong gave him when she transferred Suhr to be head of security for the city's water supply.
But Lee has a city to run, and a big part of closing this year's $300 million budget gap is to get the cops to give back millions in raises and pensions.
And for Lee to accomplish that, well, he had to make the union happy -- or more specifically, make union president Gary Delagnes happy.

In off-the-record conversations, insiders at City Hall told SF Weekly that cops, much to their dismay, will probably end up giving back tens of millions of dollars in exchange for Suhr.

"Basically, the union held the city hostage and said, 'Here is the deal. You want us to play ball on givebacks and pensions, then you give us the chief we want,'" our source tells us. "It was shoved down Ed Lee's throat, and I know this for a fact."

Suhr was the union's top choice because not only is he a San Francisco native who attended St. Ignatius and USF, but he has a good relationship with the rank and file. And that will work in the city's favor.

Jim Ross, a local political consultant who is friends with Suhr, told SF Weekly that he doesn't see how the union could have cut any deal with the mayor, considering union leaders would have to get their members to sign off on salary givebacks. But yes, it is true that Suhr was clearly the win-win candidate, Ross says.

"I think it was more 'Give us the chief we want so that you will have a better chance" at getting salary and pension givebacks, he says.

So now the question is: Will Suhr be worth the tens of millions of dollars cops will have paid for him?

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You hit the nail on the head and I know.


i am not a cop so i heard this thirdhand. but i was told that suhr was known as a dirty cop. make no mistake about it, fong covered up some pretty bad stuff that went on behind the scenes, including one cop who solicited donations on behalf of a cancer kid but kept the money himself. THAT cop didn't get the punishment suhr did. so that can tell you how much worse suhr was. she was the slowest person in the world to make decisions and was extremely cautious. so kicking him to siberia believe me was not a decision made lightly. he was supposedly known for dirty searches and stealing from drug dealers. past partners said this. not gonna say more coz i don't want to see them in trouble. standard op procedure in the SFPD is to punish the whistleblowers instead of the offenders. delagnes is no better so it's pretty sick but unsurprising that he'd sell the rank and file down the river to help out a good old boy. and what better flunky stooge to get to do it than an interim minority mayor. so now the good old boys, who are no longer a majority in the department, are running things again. this is not right. hope suhr lives to regret this and so does delagnes. and black people in this city get your lawyers ready coz dirty searches no doubt will go up. do you remember hearing stuff about random black guys stopped on the street and their pants pulled down and them searched right then and there? that's the kind of stuff i'm talking about.


Erin...I do hope you have taken the time to get to know Greg Suhr before you cast his term in negative light. He is a native of SF and has spent over 30 years of his life on the police force. He is known as a man who polices more with prevention than with enforcement. The Bayview murder rate is down just about 50% since he took over as Capt. of the Bayview. He has a string of community and kid related programs lining his path as Capt. of Mission station and Bayview station. Officers rave about how he administers still as a street cop out with the rank and file, rather than behind a desk. He has served as a beat cop, an undercover officer, as a Sargeant, as a Lieutenant, Captain, Deputy Chief, he has worked with the DEA at SF Airport, he has worked with the Office of Homeland Security when with the Water Department. I challenge you to find a cop more qualified and more localized that Greg Suhr. You mention "Fajita-gate" Did you mention that a judge found him 'factually innocent" in that case and had his name expunged from all records? You mention the "old boy" network. I submit to you that he is the least "old boy" in any old boy network and I challenge you to come up with an example where it has clouded his judgement. It is easy to accuse...but I would like to see someone come up with a concrete example. Please don't mention Heather Fong. Her actions vs. Greg Suhr and other Captains and Deputy Chief were nothing more than vendettas born out of her fear of being trumped by officers with more street experience and more loyalties. Where has Heather disappeared to since she stepped down? She is not a bad person, but she was miscast as a police chief. Please give Chief Suhr the time to prove (or disporve) himself before you cast judgement on his career. I'll check your column in 2 years and see what you have to say.


Hopefully he was appointed on his past performance not as some sort of looser Political Appointee. It's really very necessary for the Police to respect their leadership - in this case; namely their newly appointed Chief.


As I watched a cop ride down the sidewalk on his dirt bike today, giving the stink eye to some homeless folks, I couldn't help but wonder why this City doesn't have more foot patrols. Looks like I'll keep wondering ...

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