Tuesday, December 23, 2008

San Francisco Police Chief Fong's Exit Comes at Crucial Time

SFPD Chief Fong's exit comes at crucial time

Phillip Matier,Andrew Ross
Sunday, December 21, 2008

San Francisco Police Chief Heather Fong's decision to retire after nearly five stable but uninspired years on the job, comes just as Mayor Gavin Newsom is facing two tough political challenges with the city's powerful police officers union: budget cuts and the need for the union's backing for his 2010 gubernatorial bid.

Faced with a staggering city budget deficit, Newsom has asked the Police Officers Association to give back the 6 percent raise he agreed to in the last contract - just as he is asking other unions for givebacks.

So far, the police rank and file have said no dice.
At the same time Newsom is in the middle of an exploratory run for governor and is also looking for the police union's endorsement in order to shore up his law-and-order credentials.

The union, however, has a long and deep relationship with state Attorney General Jerry Brown, who also is running for governor.

And police union leaders - who have been dealing with crashing morale among rank-and-file cops over Fong's lack of leadership - have made no secret of their unhappiness with the chief.

Whatever the case, the mayor and the chief have been talking about a change for the past month.

Now it's official.

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