The national search process is beginning for a new chief of police for San Francisco, following a season of high tension and high drama on both sides of the bay for both the SF and Oakland police departments. Chief Greg Suhr resigned/was fired on May 19 following the third fatal officer-involved shooting in six months involving a person who was either unarmed or was arguably not posing an immediate threat to officers' lives all leading to increasingly loud cries from SF residents for drastic reforms in how officers handle escalating situations with the mentally ill, suspects with knives, etc. Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Toney Chaplin became Interim Chief of the SFPD, and the national search process for a new chief went out to bid. As the Examiner reports today, the only bid that came in was from Rocklin-based executive search firm Ralph Andersen & Associates, which for some reason uses a panorama helicopter shot of San Francisco as the background for its website.
This happens to be the same search firm that found Oakland's recently resigned police chief Sean Whent, who was also essentially fired following the revelation that over a dozen of his officers were having regular intercourse with a local sex worker in exchange for tips and information about prostitution stings four of them while she was still underage.
Ralph Andersen & Associates will be charging the city $49,000 for the job of creating a search plan, designing the profile of an ideal new chief, and identifying potential candidates for the job.
After advertising for the job, screening candidates, and doing initial background checks, the firm will be putting forward five to ten names for the Police Commission to begin their review.
Per the Ex:
The commission then will be presented with a search report, which will break the candidates down into three groups: highly qualified, qualified and no further interest. The résumés for the first two groups will be included in the report as well as background research and interview notes.
From this cohort will emerge four to five finalists.
The firm will manage the logistical steps for the interviews and create an interview booklet. That booklet including candidate summaries, resumes, and reports with interview comments and preliminary research will contain questions and areas for discussion for each candidate.
The final choice will be Mayor Ed Lee's, out of two or three finalists. And this should all take three months.
One can expect some vocal input from the community that spent months protesting
and hunger striking for Chief Suhr's firing, and who will want assurances that the next chief has presided over departments that have not been plagued with scandal or rife with accusations of racism or trigger-happiness.
The big obstacle is that systemic problems within a department, and a longstanding culture that exists among police of many stripes in many parts of the country, aren't things that can be fixed overnight. And any new chief, just like Whent and Suhr before them, will have his or her hands full the day they start work, trying to convince the people that they can accomplish what their predecessor couldn't.