Heather Fong

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Heather J. Fong
Heather Fong (left), with Theresa Sparks (center) and Sgt. Stephan Thorne commemorate the Compton's Cafeteria riot.
Born 1956 (1956)
San Francisco, California
Alma mater B.A., University of San Francisco
M.S.W., San Francisco State University
Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps
Police career
Department San Francisco Police Department
Years of service 1977 - 2009
Rank Sworn in as a Police Officer - 1977
Commander - August 1998
Deputy Chief - June 2000
Assistant Chief of Police - May 2003
Acting Chief of Police - January 22, 2004
Chief of Police - April 14, 2004

Heather Jeanne Fong (Chinese: 方宇文; pinyin: Fāng Yǔwén,[1] born 1956) is the former chief of police for San Francisco, California, United States. Her ancestral roots are in Ho Chung village, Chung Shan County (now in Zhongshan City), Guangdong Province, China.[2][3] She is the first woman to lead the San Francisco Police Department, and the first Asian American woman to head a major metropolitan city police force. She is also the second Asian American police chief in SFPD history, the other being Fred Lau.

Fong became the Interim San Francisco police chief in January 2004 after Alex Fagan Sr. was reassigned by Gavin Newsom. She became the permanent police chief in April 2004.

Fong most recently served as the Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for State and Local Law Enforcement, a position she held since November 17, 2014.[4] She left the position at the end of the Obama administration.

Education and career[edit]

Fong grew up in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of San Francisco and a Master of Social Work degree from San Francisco State University. In college, Fong was a member of the United States Air Force ROTC and worked as a police cadet. She served as a Police Activities League Cadet and Civil Service Police Cadet prior to entering the department. She was sworn in as a police officer in 1977, and worked through the ranks of inspector, sergeant, lieutenant, captain, commander, deputy chief, assistant chief, acting chief, and then permanent chief.

During her career, she has been assigned to patrol, served as an Academy training officer and instructor, child abuse investigator, youth programs coordinator, drug education instructor, grant writer, strategic planner, district station watch commander and commanding officer.

Chief Fong was assigned to the Special Operations Division in August 1998 when she was promoted to commander. While there, she was responsible for the Traffic, Tactical, and MUNI Transit companies. In June 2000, upon promotion to deputy chief, she was assigned to the Field Operations Bureau, where she managed the uniformed patrol personnel of the San Francisco Police Department. In August 2002, she was assigned to oversee the Administration Bureau. In May 2003, she was appointed assistant chief of police. Mayor Gavin Newsom appointed her acting chief of police on January 22, 2004, and chief of police on April 14, 2004.

Firearm certification[edit]

Chief Fong drew criticism in June 2008 for failing to complete firearm recertification for over five years though all San Francisco police officers are required to recertify annually by department regulations. Chief Fong was quoted as saying that she was too busy to recertify.[2] When the controversy erupted in the local media, she was recertified a week later.[3]


Fong was widely criticized by police officers for allegedly being appointed for political reasons rather than drawn from the ranks. This led to a series of confrontations, such as when police inspectors (and prospective inspectors) challenged her choice to assign major case investigations to patrol sergeants rather than trained investigators on September 22, 2008.[citation needed]

Fong was also criticized for supporting Mayor Gavin Newsom in his conflict with police officer Andrew Cohen and 21 other officers who made a controversial "comedy" videotape for a police Christmas party. This tape was deemed racist, sexist, homophobic, and anti-Asian by the mayor, but the officers pointed out that they were making fun of themselves and that the tape was meant only for their own private Christmas party. Fong was criticized for supporting the mayor in this dispute rather than the men and women under her command.[citation needed] [5]


Chief Fong announced on 20 December 2008 that she would be stepping down in April 2009, after serving five years as San Francisco's police chief.[4]

When she left the Hall of Justice in 2009, Police Chief Heather Fong, 53, had 32 years under her belt - and is receiving two pensions: $229,500 a year [5] as a safety worker, and a second pension of $48,156 per year for a grand total of $277,656, topping the list of the city's pensioners [6]. This amount, during a time of fiscal shortfall for the city, has come under public criticism from numerous sources [7].

See also[edit]


  • [8] SF Chronicle on Fong retirement

External links[edit]

Police appointments
Preceded by
Alex Fagan
Chief of San Francisco Police Department
Succeeded by
George Gascón