Crime & Justice

San Francisco mayor names LAPD veteran William Scott as police chief

San Francisco Police Chief William Scott, right, speaks next to Mayor Ed Lee at a news conference in San Francisco, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2016. San Francisco appointed Scott, a deputy chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, to head the city police department as it deals with a number of racially charged issues.
San Francisco Police Chief William Scott, right, speaks next to Mayor Ed Lee at a news conference in San Francisco, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2016. San Francisco appointed Scott, a deputy chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, to head the city police department as it deals with a number of racially charged issues.
Jeff Chiu/AP

San Francisco appointed a deputy chief of the Los Angeles Police Department Tuesday to head the city police department as it deals with a number of racially charged issues.

Mayor Ed Lee announced the hiring of William Scott, an African-American who is a 27-year veteran of the LAPD.

"He's seen firsthand what it takes to ... transform a department. This starts at the top," Lee said in announcing the appointment.

Former San Francisco Chief Greg Suhr stepped down in May amid mounting pressure from Lee after police fatally shot two minority suspects carrying knives.

In addition, transcripts have surfaced showing officers using racial slurs in text messages, and a young black woman was shot dead as police tried to pull her from a stolen car.

Scott, 52, a native of Alabama, said he has always wanted to live in San Francisco.

"What you will find in me, I hope, is the same person that I have been all my life, a person who will listen to you, will hear you, and will take action as appropriate, a person who will be fair and who will be consistent," he said.

"There is a lot of work to be done, a lot of reforms that are on the agenda."

Like many cities, San Francisco has experienced intensifying racial tensions between police and the community in recent years, fueled in part by police killings caught on video such as the death of Mario Woods last December in the city's Bayview district.

In 2015, a local judge in one case involving alleged police misbehavior ruled that Suhr had waited too long to discipline officers who had exchanged racist and homophobic text messages. Suhr said he delayed discipline because he didn't want to interfere with a federal corruption investigation into several officers.

Suhr lost Lee's backing this year after patrol officers looking for stolen cars in an industrial neighborhood came across 29-year-old Jessica Williams sitting behind the wheel of a parked car that had been reported stolen.

Officers turned on the patrol car's lights and sounded its siren, and the woman sped off in the stolen car and slammed into a parked utility truck. A witness reported that the officers opened the driver's door and began grabbing her to try to arrest her. At that point, a sergeant fired one round, killing her.