If San Francisco’s new chief of police is planning a major overhaul of his new department, he is not letting on. That said, freshly-sworn-in George Gascn– who officially becomes the city’s top cop at midnight tonight, when Heather Fong’s tenure expires — was cordial and open with reporters on Friday, in his second appearance before local media but first since his swearing-in.
“My top three priorities? Reducing crime, reducing crime, reducing crime,” said Gascn, who, while he does not have a contract as SFPD’s chief, again insisted he is not in the running for the chief’s job in Los Angeles, recently vacated by his friend and mentor.
He said that SFPD will focus on pursuing and punishing organized drug crime rather than arresting petty pushers, but SFPD will not shy away from “stopping open air [drug] markets.”
He did not criticize police work or name names, but he pledged that all departments, including homicide, will undergo review of training, procedure and personnel, and that he has plans to meet with French officials and discuss the De La Plaza case “over the next 10 days. That case is still pending… and we must put closure to it.”
Gascn also touched upon federal Drug Enforcement Agency raids of local marijuana clubs. “It is legal to sell medicinal marijuana in this state… but if a [pot club] is a front for organized crime.” expect SFPD to crack down “very aggressively.”
Oh, and he lives in the Marina. Why the Marina? “It’s near the water,” he said. “Give me a body of water, and I’m happy.”
Mayor Gavin Newsom and his handlers seemed intent at cutting the event as short as possible. Newsom’s handlers shouted “Last question!” a little before 2:05 p.m., after which the mayor himself exited the room. Media-savvy Gascn stayed in a few minutes longer, taking questions and business cards for reporters, and pledging to sit down for editorial board meetings with the likes of Streetsblog and the SF Bay Guardian.
(By the way, certain media (ok, us and KCBS) received a little pre-presser tweaking from the event’s organizers. Informed of the event around noon, we left for the presser at around 1:15 p.m., hopped on a bus at 1:25 p.m… which was when the SFPD sent out a second press advisory, informing our e-mail account that the presser was moved up to 1:45 p.m. So we rolled in at 1:55 p.m., thinking we were early, but only in time to catch the final 15 or so minutes of the 25-minute conference.)
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