SF sets low bar for police chief’s job

By Matier & Ross : sfchronicle – excerpt

Acting San Francisco Police Chief Toney Chaplin’s bid to win the job permanently is getting plenty of political support — even encouragement from Mayor Ed Lee — but his biggest ally may be the city’s loose job requirements.

Take, for example the educational criteria…

Chaplin says he has a bachelor’s degree, but he’s unusually closed-mouthed about it.

Before becoming acting chief in May, Chaplin was running the SFPD’s reform efforts as a deputy chief. When he applied for his management certificate with the state Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training in January 2015, Chaplin showed he had earned 65 semester units of college education, but “no degree information was present,” the commission said…

“I probably have 200 credits,” Chaplin said. As for why the credits are not on file with the state commission, Chaplin said, “The forms are very long, but I do have a degree.”

There’s also the issue of command experience.

“Most cities will say 10 to 15 years in a command position of captain or above,” Wexler said…

Coincidentally, the definition of command experience fits well with Chaplin’s rise within the department. Although the 26-year department veteran has extensive background as a street cop, he didn’t hit the command ranks until 2015, when he was promoted from lieutenant to commander…

Writing long detailed reports and talking to the press is a major part of the Police Cief’s job. So far Chaplin has done ok with the press, but, he does not seem to be the optimum candidate for the job with “three strikes” against him. The lack of leadership credits is particularly hard to accept.

The tight control the Police Commission, as it is now configured, has over the Police Department may be mitigated if voters support some of the changes in power being offered them at the ballot this November. Hopefully they will understand the reasons for the changes in authorities. Giving citizens more of a voice by empowering the elected authorities over appointees is an important issue. This is one example of why.


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