Known for toting a “Black Lives Matter” sign and being an openly gay and married police chief, former Richmond chief of police Chris Magnus has been nominated as Biden’s commissioner of Customs and Border Protection.
“Openly gay police chief” is not a phrase that one is used to hearing much, but that phrase arrived in the Bay Area in 2006 when Fargo, North Dakota chief of police Chris Magnus took the same position in Richmond. He would marry mayor Tom Butt’s chief of staff Terrance Cheung, and according to SFGate, Magnus was “said to be the first openly gay male police chief to marry.”
Now add another “first” to his honoraria. Pending confirmation, Magnus would be the first openly gay commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, as the Chronicle reports that Biden has nominated the former Richmond PD chief to that position.
In all fairness: "As police chief of gritty Richmond, California, Chris Magnus embraced Black Lives Matter, all but eliminated fatal shootings by police, and cut homicides" pic.twitter.com/myW9nrhFMD— Jay Love (@JayBirdOne) April 24, 2018
Magnus moved on to the Tucson, Arizona police chief job in 2016, but in his time here, he gained marginal fame for holding a “Black Lives Matter” sign at a rally in the wake of the 2014 Ferguson unrest. (The Richmond Police Officers Association was none too pleased.) He managed to get Richmond’s homicide rate to the lowest it had been since 1971, and achieved more minor fame for writing a pro-sanctuary city op-ed in the New York Times, railing against the policies of Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions.
“During his time in Richmond, Magnus played a key role in rebuilding community trust in law enforcement and dramatically reducing the number of shootings and homicides,” the White House said in a press release. “In Tucson, Magnus implemented de-escalation training, sentinel event review processes, and programs to promote officer health and wellness.”
Magnus’ time in Tucson has not been entirely smooth. He offered to resign last June when a 27-year-old Lantix man died in police custody, though the city manager refused to accept the resignation (the three officers involved in the incident all resigned, as Magnus had vowed to terminate them.) But Magnus also built his pro-immigration bona fides by kicking Border Patrol agents out of Tucson PD command posts.
If confirmed, Magnus inherits a surge of Mexico-US border crossings that has created the first big, tricky challenge of the Biden administration.
SFist has a little history with Chris Magnus, from this one time back in 2014 when he deleted some tweets and apologized when we razzed him for his Twitter shaming of sex workers. At the time, Magnus was big on shaming Johns of sex workers. His Twitter game is since a little more conventional, and we wish him the best if he gets confirmed and has far more on his plate than social media high jinks.
Image: @ChiefCMagnus via Twitter