SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A black deputy police chief from Los Angeles was selected on Tuesday to head up the San Francisco Police Department, months after the city’s last police chief was pushed out amid protests over police killings of African-Americans.
The U.S. Department of Justice continues to review San Francisco’s police force after deadly police shootings and two racist text-messaging scandals that sparked angry demonstrations and calls for a department shake-up.
Bill Scott, the highest-ranking black officer with the Los Angeles Police Department, will replace Toney Chaplin and is expected to start late January. Chaplin, who is also black, has been serving as interim police chief since Greg Suhr was ousted from the top job.
“I admire San Francisco’s proactive approach to reform in the wake of incidents in the last two years, and I look forward to continuing this work,” Scott said in a statement.
Scott has been with the Los Angeles police for 27 years and was promoted to deputy chief in 2015, according to the mayor’s office. He heads the Los Angeles Police Department’s South Bureau, which employs 1,700 people and covers an area where some 640,000 people live.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee reluctantly pressured Suhr to resign back in May, just hours after an officer fatally shot a black woman.
That shooting occurred in San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood, where police in December 2015 fatally shot a black man who was a suspect in a stabbing. Police said at the time that 26-year-old Mario Woods, whose family has since sued the city, was holding a knife and refused to drop it.
Bystander video, which went viral after being published online, showed Woods being gunned down in a hail of bullets by a phalanx of officers.
In April, the city’s public defender released racist and homophobic text messages sent by a San Francisco police officer, which marked the second such scandal in as many years.
Amid escalating protests, the city and the U.S. Justice Department launched a collaborative review of the police department in February, which critics said fell short of a civil rights investigation.
In October, reviewers released a report outlining deficiencies it found within the department, including apparent racial bias in traffic stops, searches and killings.
Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Leslie Adler and Andrew Hay