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Friday, March 20, 2009

Condi Rice for Next SFPD Chief! And Other Ideas From Last Night's Tenderloin Policing Forum

Posted By on Fri, Mar 20, 2009 at 8:30 AM

Police Commission President Theresa Sparks (right) talks it out - PETER JAMISON
  • Peter Jamison
  • Police Commission President Theresa Sparks (right) talks it out
Ahhhh, democracy. Try as we might, it never quite runs according to

script, save in those enlightened, post-democratic nations -- such as

Russia, Haiti or Uzbekistan -- that have figured out how to tame the

snarling beast of representative government. San Francisco's Tenderloin

neighborhood, while it bears more than passing similarity to these

locales in some respects, is no such place. This much could be seen at a

community forum last night on the selection of the next San Francisco

police chief.

The forum, organized by the Community Leadership Alliance, a

neighborhood activist group, featured Police Commission President

Theresa Sparks and Police Commissioner David Onek, and was moderated by

your correspondent. The ostensible point was for commissioners to hear from Tenderloin residents on what

qualities they'd like to see in the next SFPD chief, who will replace

outgoing chief Heather Fong. But it quickly became clear that many of

the audience members in attendance had showed up for an

entirely different reason: To court support for the Pink Diamonds, an

embattled Tenderloin strip club that has come under scrutiny for a

series of violent crimes outside its entrance.

Oh well. A few in the crowd offered some topical suggestions: One man

urged more vigorous responses to citizen complaints about individual

cops, while another asked for a chief who would lobby actively for

a no-loitering policy in the Tenderloin from the Board of Supervisors.

One gentleman asked that San Francisco's next top cop be a black woman,

and requested that the commission get in touch with Condoleezza Rice,

if only for advice. Let us state for the record that we support any

political development that puts Bush's former secretary of state in the

same room as Chris Daly.

A new sheriff? - COURTESY U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
  • Courtesy U.S. Department of State
  • A new sheriff?
The commissioners themselves also made some suggestive but vague remarks about

the direction their search is taking. (Applications for the job are

being accepted through mid-April; the commission will present a short

list of nominees to the mayor, who makes the final choice.) The troubled

police department has undergone multiple reviews and studies in recent

years, and commissioners say they're looking for someone to make

good on recommended changes.

"There's a few things right off the bat that we're looking for," Onek

said. "One is someone who is a reformer." The eight studies the

department has undergone, he said, "list over 300 total

recommendations for changes to the department... Chief Fong has done a wonderful job of getting these

studies done, working with the commission and the entities that did the

studies. We have a blueprint for real reform now, and we need

somebody who can come in and implement that blueprint... whether that

person is somebody who is currently in the department, or somebody

outside the department, we're completely open to either one."

Outside the department. That means Condi is still in the running, right?

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Peter Jamison

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