San Francisco Police Chief Heather Fong to retire in April

heather_fongOne thing that really shocked me about moving here from Western Massachusetts was the number of Asian Americans with non-stereotyped roles, like police officers or fire fighters.  Almost five years ago, when San Francisco Mayor Newsom appointed 26 year police veteran Heather Fong to become the city’s first female police chief (and the first Asian American woman to ever lead a police force of a major U.S. city) I was in shock; only in San Francisco or California could I have ever see this happen, I thought. On Saturday, Fong announced that she would be retiring this coming April.

But Fong hasn’t been perfect in her role as police chief and has had her critics, especially about her leadership style:

“Critics faulted her low-key management style and her administration’s handling of police discipline. Even some neighborhood leaders have complained that she is slow to personally and publicly respond in areas besieged by crime waves … Among the most consistent criticism flung at Fong is that she is overly cautious in a job that demands clear and decisive leadership. Yet it is her quiet management style that helped land her the job in the first place … Louise Renne, the former San Francisco supervisor and city attorney who served as Police Commission president during a time when Fong was chief, said in a 2006 interview that Fong “is not a swaggering, blustering police chief – this is a chief who does things in a different way.””

Sounds like stereotypical complaints made about Asian Americans in the corporate world, if you ask me. Just because the traditional model of police chief management and leadership has been lead by white males doesn’t mean that should be the standard; it’s just what the public is used to. If Fong had a leadership style like, say, the current Governor of Illinois, would that would be seen as an example of “more clear, decisive and assertive leadership?”

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About John

I'm a Taiwanese-American and was born & raised in Western Massachusetts, went to college in upstate New York, worked in Connecticut, went to grad school in North Carolina and then moved out to the Bay Area in 1999 and have been living here ever since - love the weather and almost everything about the area (except the high cost of housing...)
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