San Fran: 1st the Fire Chief, now the Police Chief
Woman picked as interim San Francisco police chief soon after woman fire chief sworn in
Sunday January 18, 2004
By TAMI MIN
Associated Press Writer
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) If you run into trouble in this city, look to a woman for help.
Mayor Gavin Newsom named Assistant Police Chief Heather Fong as his pick for interim police chief Sunday, two days after he swore in Joanne Hayes-White as the city's first woman fire chief.
If the city's Police Commission confirms the 26-year veteran's appointment this week as expected, San Francisco will have the rare distinction of having women lead its two key public safety departments.
Newsom, who wants Fong considered for the permanent job, had vowed to bring new leadership to a department still reeling from a scandal over a 2002 street brawl in which three off-duty police officers were accused.
Allegations that the department blocked an investigation into the brawl led to the indictments of then-Chief Earl Sanders, current Chief Alex Fagan Sr. and five other top commanders. Charges against the top brass were quickly dropped.
``It's time to move this department in a new direction,'' Newsom said at his announcement Sunday, held at a Vietnamese New Year's festival in the city's Little Saigon neighborhood.
Fong, who briefly served as acting chief during the scandal, said she wants to review investigation and discipline issues and improve technology within the department.
When asked if serving as acting chief is a tryout for the permanent position, Fong said, ``My whole career has been a tryout.''
Terrie Swann, president of the International Association of Women Police, applauded Fong's appointment.
``She deserves it. She's a wonderful leader and she's come up through the ranks,'' Swann said Sunday night.
Fagan has been appointed to head the city's Office of Emergency Services, which handles a range of security matters and disaster relief for the city.
Meanwhile, officials continue to search for a permanent replacement for the police chief position nationally.