New San Francisco police Chief George Gascon said today he was excited to begin work in the city and has no intention of bolting to the newly open chief’s job in Los Angeles, where he began his law enforcement career.
Los Angeles police Chief William Bratton, under whom Gascon served as assistant chief, made a surprise announcement Wednesday that he would step down in October.
The 55-year-old Gascon, who spent 28 years with the Los Angeles Police Department and was most recently police chief of Mesa, Ariz., has been rumored to have interest in the position.
“No,” Gascon told reporters this afternoon after being sworn in to office by Mayor Gavin Newsom. “I will not be applying for it.”
Newsom said Gascon will officially begin as chief at midnight, “and will, I think, hit the ground running.”
Gascon said he just moved in to his new home in San Francisco on Monday and was “very excited” to begin work here making “the San Francisco Police Department the best police department in the country.”
The new chief said he’d already spoken with some community leaders, police personnel and members of the command staff, and had extensive conversations with the union.
Gascon has also brought in outside help to help assess the “immediate needs” of the department.
He said the most pressing issues of the San Francisco Police Department were budget cutbacks, internal staffing decisions (making sure “that we have the right people at the right places”) and implementing new technology.
Gascon said he plans on getting a “very effective” CompStat crime pattern tracking system running by October.
He will also look at ways to modernize San Francisco police detective work to improve the investigations bureau’s crime clearance rate, including homicides.
“You cannot investigate crimes from behind your desk,” Gascon said. “We have to get detectives out in the field.”
Part of that work also includes improving relationships in neighborhoods beset by crime, Gascon said. Unsolved, or unsuccessfully prosecuted crimes are often blamed in part on witnesses who are unwilling to come forward to police or testify at trial.
Gascon said he wants to look at ways of giving new opportunities to children as an alternative to joining gangs.
On the prosecution side, Gascon said he has already had a chance to speak with District Attorney Kamala Harris.
“I believe that we’re going to have a great working relationship,” he said.