Heather Fong

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. 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.

Heather J. Fong
Heather Fong (left), with Theresa Sparks (center) and Sgt. Stephan Thorne commemorate the Compton's Cafeteria riot.
Born1956 (age 63–64)
San Francisco, California
Alma materUniversity of San Francisco (BA)
SF State (MSW)
Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps
Police career
DepartmentSan Francisco Police Department
Service years1977 - 2009
RankSworn 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

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.[2] She left the position at the end of the Obama administration.

Early life and educationEdit

Her ancestral roots are in Ho Chung village, Chung Shan County (now in Zhongshan City), Guangdong Province, China.[3][4]

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.

Heather Fong, San Francisco Chief of Police

Firearm certificationEdit

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.[5] When the controversy erupted in the local media, she was recertified a week later.[6]


Fong was 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.[7]


Fong announced in December 2008 that she would be stepping down in April 2009, after serving five years as San Francisco's police chief.[8]

Fong receives some $264,000 annually in pension payments.[9] The high amount of pension payments to Fong and other retired top officials in San Francisco's police and fire departments has prompted critical comment.[9][10]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ 李昆明 金山史上第一位亞裔警察 (in Chinese). 世界新聞網 (World Journal). August 21, 2011. Retrieved July 4, 2014.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Chinese American Heroine: Heather Fong : AsianWeek Archived 2009-09-18 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco". CCC San Francisco. Retrieved 2020-02-26.
  5. ^ Lyles, Robert (2008-06-15). "SFPD Chief In Trouble For Missing Target Practice". CBS5. Archived from the original on June 15, 2008. Retrieved 2020-02-26.
  6. ^ Rubenstein, Steve (2008-06-12). "S.F. police chief OK on pistol tests". SFGate. Retrieved 2020-02-26.
  7. ^ SFIST Jer (July 11, 2007). "'VideoGate' Officer Andrew Cohen Doesn't Hold Back". Archived from the original on 2015-08-15. Retrieved 2014-09-07.
  8. ^ Rachel Gordon, S.F. police chief announces retirement: City's first female top cop leaving in April, will help pick successor, San Francisco Chronicle (December 21, 2008).
  9. ^ a b Heather Knight, S.F. pays supplemental pensions to retired brass, San Francisco Chronicle (March 13, 2011).
  10. ^ Matier & Ross, S.F. retirees' solid-golden years, San Francisco Chronicle (June 1, 2009).
  • [2] SF Chronicle on Fong retirement

External linksEdit

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