By the Daily Post staff
Susan Manheimer is retiring after 19 years as San Mateo’s police chief, days after the city announced it was refunding or dismissing nearly 1,000 red-light camera tickets because of a discrepancy in the timing of the yellow light.
She said that her retirement has been in the works for the past two months and wasn’t related to the problems with the red-light camera program, which has since been canceled by the city.
On Thursday, the city announced it was refunding 985 tickets that had been issued by its controversial red-light cameras and was pulling the plug on the cameras. The yellow light on the stoplights was too short, causing motorists to get red-light tickets unfairly.
She said the timing of the yellow light was the responsibility of the city’s engineering department.
Manheimer was a staunch defender of the red-light camera program over the years. In 2009, the Daily Post used video equipment to show that the yellow lights were too short. Manheimer blasted the Post’s report, saying it was inaccurate.
In 2015, NBC Bay Area did substantially the same story. Instead of denying that report, the city threw out 948 tickets and re-set the yellow lights.
The revelation last week that the yellow light was, again, timed incorrectly, was the third time in 10 years it had come to light that the devices were improperly ticketing motorists.
The press release about Manheimer’s retirement doesn’t mention the red-light camera fiasco and instead emphasizes her achievements.
“Under her leadership the San Mateo Police Department earned national acclaim for innovative crime prevention, juvenile and homeless outreach programs that have been widely adopted throughout the country,” the city’s press release said.
She was dedicated to keeping juveniles out of the justice system and helped to establish the PAL and Police Cadet Programs to keep youth on the right track.
“Chief Susan Manheimer has served both her community and county law enforcement with unmatched leadership and service,” said San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe. “The police department has grown to one of the most innovative and community-oriented agencies in California under Susan’s guidance. The very low crime rate in San Mateo is due in substantial part to her work as police chief.”
Manheimer will retire at the end of the year. She was a San Francisco police captain in the Tenderloin District before she was appointed as San Mateo’s chief in 2000.
In 2016, Manheimer considered running for San Mateo County Sheriff. At the time, incumbent Greg Munks had decided to retire rather than run for re-election. His second-in-command, Undersheriff Carlos Bolanos, wanted the job.
Manheimer said that several people urged her to run including Congresswoman Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo.
However, the county Board of Supervisors decided to replace Munks with Bolanos, who would serve until the 2018 election. If anyone were to run, they’d face an uphill battle trying to unseat an appointed incumbent. So Manheimer decided at that point not to run and threw her support behind Bolanos.