Chief Susan Manheimer (Ret.)


Chief Susan Manheimer retired after a distinguished, 39-year career serving in leadership positions for 4 diverse police agencies in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. A sought-after consultant, trainer, and speaker on police procedures, policies, practices, and strategies; Manheimer has deep experience in forging partnerships to reduce crime and enhance outcomes. She is an innovative and progressive law enforcement leader who embraces emerging and engaging criminal justice strategies involving social and procedural justice through community engagement.

Starting her career with the San Francisco, California, Police Department, served there 17 years, and led successful initiatives involving community policing, youth, and gang reduction. While the captain of the challenging Tenderloin Station, Manheimer forged resourceful coalitions with all stakeholders for those at risk and in need, generating many innovative and successful programs including early focused deterrence initiatives and programs such as “Take Back the Tenderloin,” Youth Clean the TL, the Juvenile Diversion Program, Community on Patrol, and the Homeless Outreach Service Team.

In 2000, Manheimer was recruited to the San Mateo, California, Police Department (SMPD) and became the fourth female police chief in the state of California. At her retirement in 2020 she was one of the senior tenured chiefs in the state, serving 20 years as chief of the SMPD. Under her leadership SMPD pioneered effective and creative strategies to control crime, build community partnerships and trust, improve safety, and ensure restorative outcomes for those in trouble. She was a driving force behind several highly effective countywide programs including founding the Countywide Gang Task Force, the Juvenile Assessment and Referral Center, the Human Trafficking Task Force, and the Homeless Outreach Team.

Chief Manheimer was then tapped for two interim police chief positions in the Bay Area. Manheimer served a 10-month interim chief’s assignment at the Oakland, California, Police Department (OPD) starting in April 2020, guiding the department during the global pandemic amidst a period of significant social unrest, spiking violent crime and disorder, and demands for policing reforms. Manheimer effectively provided leadership stability while embracing progressive reforms and intervention strategies to combat significant increases in violent crime while building trust. Under her tenure, OPD instituted welcomed changes in policies, practices, community partnerships, and safety initiatives.

Manheimer was then appointed as interim chief to the San Leandro, California, Police Department. There she provided leadership stability and realigned police and community safety partnerships while assisting with the creation of a community-led police oversight model and shepherding restorative justice programs.

Manheimer has been tapped for many national, state, and local leadership positions, including the Executive Sessions on Policing at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She also served as the only woman president of the California Police Chiefs Association, and several county chiefs associations. Additionally, she has received many awards for her dedication to her community and her social justice work.

She is a lead instructor for the California Police Chiefs Association Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) certified “Succeeding As a Police Chief” course and is a strategic site liaison for the US Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance Public Safety Partnerships program, providing technical training and assistance to cities and agencies pairing crime reduction and community engagement strategies and support.