Richmond District police advisory board roiled by accusations
Five members of the Richmond Community Police Advisory Board resigned over the past week after Richmond Station Capt. Eric Vintero dismissed another member of the board. Vintero and other police officials aren’t talking, but this controversy reportedly goes back to allegations of intimidation — intimidation that both the accused board member and his supposed target, Supervisor Eric Mar, say never happened.
As first reported by the Wall Street Journal March 21, advisory board Chairman David Lee and four other members resigned in protest after Vintero removed member Christopher Rillo March 13. Lee and the other members all signed a letter of resignation sent Monday to San Francisco Chief of Police Greg Suhr, according to the Journal.
Rillo had previously spoken out against an after-hours permit for a Jack in the Box restaurant on Geary Boulevard, though not as a member of the advisory board. The Journal reported that minutes from a March 13 advisory-board meeting show Vintero said he dismissed Rillo due to “belligerent behavior” at a Jan. 17 meeting about the restaurant. The Journal also stated that Mar said Vintero later told him Rillo’s “unprofessional” behavior at an appeals-board meeting Feb. 29 let to Rillo’s dismissal.
But Mar, who represents District 1, including the Richmond District, told the San Francisco Examiner that he never felt intimidated by any board member and had no part in Vintero’s decision to remove Rillo:
“It’s puzzling to me why anyone would make that claim,” Mar said. “I did not influence the captain’s decision and I leave that up to the police station to appoint members. I’ve never been intimidated by anyone in those meetings.”
Rillo said he thinks his dismissal was retaliation for speaking out about the Jack in the Box, but police officials were more circumspect in their statements to the Journal:
Mr. Vintero didn’t return calls for comment. His commanders said they determined Mr. Vintero’s dismissal of Mr. Rillo was proper. “We fully support the captain’s decision in this matter,” said Deputy Police Chief Kevin Cashman, who also spoke on behalf of Mr. Suhr. “We’d like to thank Mr. Rillo for his service, and that’s about all we have to say.”
Members of police community advisory boards are responsible for helping police address neighborhood safety issues, and they serve at the pleasure of the captain in charge of the police districts with which they are associated. With Rillo gone and five members resigned, only two members remain on the eight-seat Richmond District board.