San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee picked a new top cop for the city on Tuesday, announcing that a Los Angeles Deputy Police Chief would get the job.
"I know this process was not an easy one," William "Bill" Scott said at a news conference at City Hall. He brought his wife and two sons with him, and said his daughter couldn't attend because of work.
"They are the force and the drive in my life," he said, tearing up, noting that Monday was his 29th wedding anniversary. "I couldn't do it without them."
Scott has worked in Los Angeles since 1989, in all sorts of positions, from patrol to gangs, from Internal Affairs to operations. Originally from Alabama, Scott also has a bachelor's of science in accounting. He added that he wasn't looking for a job, he was very happy in Los Angeles. But he said that God and fate had a hand in the timing of the surprising turn of events. Scott added that he had long had San Francisco on his list for cities he had wanted to live in.
Supervisor London Breed said that she was looking forward to Scott's tenure and weeding out officers who "don't deserve to wear a uniform," a reference to many scandals inside the department including claims of racism and excessive force. "It's time for a new day," she said.
In November, NBC Bay Area learned that the commission had chosen three finalists for the position that former Police Chief Greg Suhr left in May, days after officers fatally shot a woman in the Bayview District.
At the time, a source confirmed to NBC Bay Area that Acting Police Chief Toney Chaplin and Deputy Chief Denise Schmitt were on the list. Chaplin has been presiding over the department since Suhr's resignation. Why Chaplin wasn't selected was not spelled out.
Lee thanked Chaplin at the beginning of the news conference saying that he led the city with "dignity and grace," and worked "tirelessly to the path of reform."
Lee said he was predisposed to filling the position from within the department, but told NBC Bay Area that criticism from the Department of Justice and the District Attorney's Blue Ribbon Committee convinced himself to look for candidates outside the San Francisco Police Department.
Chaplin stood — arms crossed — next to the mayor at the podium and uttered "you're welcome" after he was praised. He hugged Scott, who reached out to him during the news conference, but he did not speak publicly at the event, walking in, and out, of the room quickly without speaking to reporters.
Scott said police in general are facing many challenges across the country.
"What worked for me was a chief who was supportive of me to get the job done by giving me what I needed to get the job done," he said of his time in Los Angeles.
Scott said he is committed to change for the better, noting that this will be difficult, especially coming up with use-of-force policies. In particular, police department critics have been demanding a change in the policies that govern officers shooting into moving vehicles.
Eleven years ago, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon was the head of operations for the Los Angeles Police Department. At the time, the Southern California department decided to restrict when an officer can shoot into moving vehicles.
“We want to make sure that none of the officers use their actual guns to shoot at any moving vehicles,” said Oscar Salina, with the Justice for Alex Nieto Coalition. Nieto was shot dead during a 2015 encounter with San Francisco police.
But the Police Officers Association has opposed the ban, pointing to terror attacks where vehicles were used as weapons. The union also had thrown their support behind Chaplin.
But in a statement after the announcement was made, president Nathan Ballard said, "We look forward to meeting William Scott. We anticipate that he will tap into the tremendous talent of the men and women who make up the SFPD. The POA hopes to work closely with him as chief and we are committed to helping him move the department forward here in San Francisco."