Supervisor Norman Yee's non-binding resolution to "require" the San Francisco Police Chief to live in the city he or she serves has passed unanimously. A legislative aide to Yee reiterated to KRON 4 that this won't change existing law, but is instead intended as a message. Mores specifically, that message could be understood as one addressed to Toney Chaplin, who has served as interim SFPD Chief since Greg Suhr was forced to resign the job in May. An Oakland resident, Chaplin has said he has no plans to move if he were offered the full-time job.
“This is not a new concept,” Yee said of his resolution last week according to the Examiner. “From my constituents I have heard great concern about how important it is to have the fire chief and police chief reside in San Francisco.” Yee invoked the possibility of an emergency in which the officer in charge of first responders might be needed immediately. Further, he pointed to Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, which recommends the same.
Just about 27 percent of current SFPD officers live in San Francisco proper, though until the mid-1980s all police chiefs in San Francisco were required to live in the city. The rule was foregone when it presented too much of a challenge to recruitment.
The department received a reported 61 applications for the open position of SFPD Chief, but the selection process has been conducted with great secrecy and was delayed until the new year. Currently, three unnamed candidates, likely with Chaplin among them, are being considered by Mayor Lee. While Chaplin has been successful by some measures, he's also been criticized for perceived caginess regarding his educational background, although it was eventually clarified that he holds an online degree from Colorado State University. Another knock on Chaplin: he allegedly threatened his staff with an internal investigation following an unwelcome leak to the press. Oh, and one final damnable detail: Chaplin is endorsed by the San Francisco Police Officers' Association, a stubborn, self-serving organization known to explode at the slightest criticism of police work.