SF sheriff pleads guilty in domestic violence case. Should he keep his job?

The case has disturbed many here in the Bay Area. The sheriff of San Francisco, Ross Mirkarimi, arrested on a domestic violence charge. His wife went to their neighbors in tears 20 hours after the attack, which happened on New Year’s Eve (2011). She recounted what happened and also described a previous episode. One neighbor, who happens to also be an attorney, took video of her statements.

Mirkarimi was charged with domestic violence, child endangerment, and dissuading a witness five days after he was sworn in as sheriff. Mirkarimi infamously claimed the incident was a “private family matter” and so La Casa de Madres, a local advocacy group, crowdsourced money for a billboard near city hall to remind everyone that domestic violence is NEVER a private matter.

In addition to claiming it was a private matter, Mirkarimi initially pled not guilty to all charges. However, citing mounting financial pressures, the SF Chronicle is reporting that he pled to the lesser charge of false imprisonment. He will complete a year-long domestic violence counseling program and serve three-years probation. This is all typical of a first time domestic violence charge.

But should he still be sheriff?

I don’t think so. For two reasons.

1. When you are someone with a position of power you must be held to a higher standard. When a policeman commits a violent crime, it’s a concern. When he is the head of the sheriff’s department it is even more troubling. He can stay on the force (don’t they have desk jobs?), but I don’t think he should be in charge. A leader doesn’t beat his wife in front of his two-year-old son, intimidate her into feeling that were she to leave him she would be deported and lose custody of her child, deny the charges, and claim it’s a “private matter.”

2. He cites financial reasons for pleading guilty. Well, if that doesn’t say, “I’m so sorry, I lost my temper and I just don’t know what came over me. I am devastated and will never get over that I hurt my wife and scared my son. I want to do everything in my power to make sure this never happens again,” I don’t know what does. If you plead guilty, then show some remorse. People are much more likely to forgive and to believe that you really want to change when you actually admit guilt. In my experience, telling a judge that you plead “guilty” is a lot different from showing the world you made a mistake and want to change.

When people don’t own up to domestic violence it bugs me. A lot. They’re not sorry they did it. Maybe they don’t even believe they are guilty of a crime. They’re just sorry they got caught.

What do you think? Should Mirkarimi still be sheriff?

Join the Conversation


  1. Pretty easy one here.

    No. He shouldn’t be sheriff. Talk about hypocrite. Unfortunately, I’m sure he’s not the only felon/misdemeanor offender in public office. Sad.

  2. No. He should step down, and acknowledge that any good he could have done in the position is now going to be questioned and pushed back against at every step. You can’t be an effective leader upholding the law, when you can’t even obey the laws regarding your family. He’s a bully, he threatened his wife with deportation if she left–That’s the worst thing, he essentially tried to turn her into his prisoner–and without help, he’ll eventually turn this on his son. Nope, you can’t have an abusive bully running the already overly power-hungry PD.

  3. I really don’t understand this one.

    I thought a domestic violence conviction stripped your rights to firearms. A sheriff without a gun???

  4. I agree – he shouldn’t be in charge. I do believe in the ability of people to change, for the better and for the worse. Should he be fired? No, but as you pointed out he shouldn’t be in a position of authority. If he is a good administrator, put him in that position. If he is a good trainer, put him there, but not in charge.

  5. What worries me is what this says about his and his department’s response to domestic violence cases. Whose side would this guy’s sympathies be on, d’you think?

  6. He should be fired. Immediately. There is no way he can ever be seen as unprejudiced in cases of domestic violence.

  7. No he should not keep his job, in my opinion, if he does how can anyone in his office arrest any other person for criminal domestic violence and it not seem completely wrong.

    He violated a law and everyone in the community is aware of it. It would say that he is above the law and it also says a to about the state of women in his jurisdiction.

  8. He should not be even in law enforcement any longer. Domestic violence is a serious crime and nobody in law enforcement should be a convicted criminal.

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