SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Speaking for the first time since a man was arrested for tweeting threats against him, San Francisco’s acting police chief on Wednesday told KPIX 5 he isn’t surprised that someone wants him dead.

Acting San Francisco Police Chief Toney Chaplin was the target of a racist Twitter threat on his life this past weekend that called for his beheading.

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The tweet, which was posted Saturday, included a photo of Chaplin beside an image of a guillotine and the caption “Let us behead this black man, please!”

The post also included a sign that read, “White Trade Only.”

The tweet came from a Twitter account belonging to “LambofGod” (@BethesdaSavior), and the account features a link to a blog that focuses on white supremacy with posts of swastikas and lynchings.


On Monday, a warrant was served at a home in the 2600 block of Ortega Street. Police arrested a suspect there, identified as 60-year-old Donald Eric Hoganson.

KPIX 5’s Phil Matier spoke exclusively to Chief Chaplin at a time when he and all officers have targets on their backs.

“Quite frankly, I was surprised it took so long to happen,” Chaplin said.

Chaplin, who had been serving as deputy chief in charge of the department’s Professional Standards and Principled Policing Bureau, was named acting chief back in May after the resignation of embattled San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr.

“You know I’m from Oklahoma originally, so I wasn’t surprised that a hate group would take issue with an African-American man being chief of police in a major metropolitan city,” continued Chaplin. “I kind of thought we were light years away from that; that our society was in a place where that didn’t happen. Recent events have told us that that is not the case.”

The chief also had a serious question of his own for Matier.

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“I mean, Phil, when was the last time you heard of the KKK actively recruiting in San Francisco, California?” he asked.

And it’s not just racists.

As the attacks on officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge showed, cop hate has no color line.

When asked about officer safety, Chaplin replied it was one of his major concerns.

“That’s huge. That is a huge issue right now.  I mean literally, when you walk out of district station, your head is on a swivel,” said Chaplin. “I have never seen anything like it before. [With] every officer, you can sense the tension. When you go into a restaurant or a Starbucks, you have to worry if someone is sighting you to shoot you.”

Chaplin also pointed out a chilling aspect regarding the targeted attacks on police.

“One of the important things that we are learning is that, as in Baton Rouge, sometimes when officers are wounded and when you go to their aide, that is when the person starts killing the other officers,” said Chaplin.

Matier closed his interview by asking Chaplin point blank: “When you joined the force, is this what you signed up for?”

“It’s not what I signed up for, but I knew these were the conditions,” replied the acting chief.

The Oakland Police Department is doubling up on officer patrols to increase safety while the SFPD is putting two officers in each patrol car.

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Police vehicles are also patrolling in closer proximity to offer quicker back-up and support to each other, though officers are keeping in mind the need for caution in the wake of the recent military-style tactics being used by shooters who are targeting police responding to officer-in-distress calls.