SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) -- Former Los Angeles police Deputy Chief Bill Scott was sworn in today as San Francisco's new chief of police in a City Hall ceremony marked by the shouts of a handful of protesters.
Scott, 52-years old, was appointed by Mayor Ed Lee last month after a months-long search triggered by the resignation in May of former police Chief Greg Suhr, takes the helm at a time of turmoil and change and is expected to lead the department through a reform process started under his predecessor.
He acknowledged today that the department has difficult challenges ahead. The department is working to implement a series of reforms recommended by a U.S. Department of Justice report released in October and also recently adopted body-worn cameras and finalized a revised use of force policy that has become the subject of litigation with the San Francisco Police Officers Association.
"We have been tasked with reforming our department, not for the sake of change or for political purposes, but instead for the sake of making it better at what we do, that is keeping our city safe and free from disorder in a manner that is constitutional, effective, professional and legitimate in the eyes of the public, "Scott said.
"You have already begun that process and I applaud you for your efforts," he said.
Scott, whose selection over department insider candidates such as interim Chief Toney Chaplin prompted a negative reaction from the San Francisco Police Officers Association, said he had begun meeting with San Francisco officers and had been welcomed.
Flanked by his wife, three children and Mayor Lee on the steps of City Hall, he was all smiles today and said he understood that the trust of his officers was not a given but would have to be "earned."
KTVU's Tara Moriarty sat down with the Chief earlier this morning. He said his first order of business was to rally the rank and file.
"It starts with building relationships and as cliche as this might sound, it's really that elementary. People have to really believe in you as a leader, and they don't when they see you sitting in an ivory tower, pulling the levers like, you know, The Wizard of Oz."
Chief Scott has already met with many police officers at their stations as well as the leaders of the Police Officers Association.
It was as Scott spoke about the community's desire for reform during his swearing in that several protesters began shouting from the audience, calling out phrases including "Gascon do your job!"-- a reference to the slow pace of charging decisions in recent police shootings under District Attorney George Gascon.
The protesters were quickly removed and Scott continued speaking through the interruption.
Lee said he expected Scott, an Alabama native who has 27 years of experience in the Los Angeles Police Department including direct involvement in reform efforts there, to be "the finest police chief in America."
"The San Francisco Police Department strives to be a model for 21st century policing and a leader in our nation in balancing public safety and community trust," Lee said. "I am confident that the appointment of [Scott] as chief of police will be the next step on the path to improvement and reform."
The former Los Angeles Deputy Chief leads the SFPD as it undertakes key reforms laid out by the Department of Justice report, which found racial disparities in traffic stops and searches, a lack of transparency and problems in handling use of force incidents.
The SF Police Commission most recently banned the use of carotid restraint, a less lethal method. Moriarty asked Chief Scott what he thought of that change.
"The question goes back to now what other options do we have? I think Tasers [are] good option."
Currently SFPD Officers do not carry Tasers. The Police Commission has shot down the idea for years.
Scott says he will continue to try to build bridges. Just recently he met with District Attorney George Gascon, who has had a rocky relationship with SFPD in the past.
"I think it was a good meeting. It was a productive meeting and it was really ...us really sitting down saying we need to work together."
Scott has found a home in the city where he'll live with his wife and child. His two oldest children are remaining in Los Angeles for now he said.
Scott says his heart is in San Francisco, "It's just something about this city that draws you to it. It's just a magical place."
Carrying on his theme of bridges, Scott plans to job across the Golden Gate Bridge as the first stop on his sightseeing checklist