Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 11 / 15 March 2018

Ex-SF police commissioner Jim Hammer won’t rule out political campaign

Former deputy district attorney James Hammer, who recently stepped down from San Francisco’s Police Commission, won’t rule out a run for public office this year.

In an interview with the Bay Area Reporter this week, the openly gay Hammer (seen at right) said he had yet to decide what his political future may hold.

“No, I have no announcements to make about any political plans,” said Hammer, whose work a decade ago on the city’s famous dog-mauling case led to a stint as a television legal commentator for Fox News.

Now in private practice, Hammer has been mulling a run to be district attorney. The current occupant, former police chief George Gascon, has found himself under attack for saying he would not rule out seeking the death penalty in certain cases.

The other two challengers in the race – David Onek, a senior fellow at the Berkeley Center for Criminal Justice, and Alameda County prosecutor Sharmin Bock, have attacked Gascon over the issue, which could prove decisive with city voters.

A former Jesuit Priest, Hammer also served on the Half Moon Bay police force when he was 18. He could opt to seek the city’s sheriff post, which is up for grabs now that Michael Hennessey is retiring this year.

In that race District 5 Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi is seen as the leading candidate and has Hennessey’s endorsement. The filing deadline for both races isn’t until August.

For now Hammer said he is looking forward to having more free time. His term on the police oversight panel coincided with not only welcoming Gascon to the city but also finding his replacement after former Mayor Gavin Newsom appointed him D.A.

Of new Police Chief Greg Suhr, Hammer commended him for his picking three lesbians to be in his command staff.

“I am incredibly pleased. I think Greg Suhr really delivered in a way that makes me proud,” he said.

A backlog of discipline cases and an ongoing examination of what role patrol specials play in policing the city also consumed much of Hammer’s time since he was appointed by the Board of Supervisors to the commission in November of 2009.

His term ended April 30 and he opted not to seek being reappointed.

“It is incredibly time consuming and I accomplished the stuff I set out to do,” said Hammer.

The board’s Rules Committee will take up the matter of his replacement at its meeting Thursday, June 2. Three people have applied, with gay attorneys Julius Turman and David Waggoner the leading candidates as the post is seen as the “LGBT seat” on the commission.

Hammer isn’t taking sides and would only say he wants to see an LGBT person be given his seat. He said the key is ensuring the nominee can work with the other six people on the commission.

“I know them both,” he said. “The trick is, the art is, the skill is if you are a board appointee to work with the other commissioners.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, May 26, 2011 @ 12:47 pm PST
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