Commissioners voted on a timeline that includes the release of a formal written application in the next few days, after which prospective candidates will have two weeks to submit their job applications.
The commission hopes to then interview candidates and hold a limited number of public hearings before submitting up to three recommendations for chief to Mayor Ed Lee by March 15.
Lee can then choose one of them as chief or reject them all and start the process over again.
“The job’s open, and we’re accepting applications,” commission president Thomas Mazzucco said.
Commissioner James Slaughter noted with a smile, “Everybody around the country knows that this job is open.”
After serving as San Francisco police chief for 18 months, George Gascon was named district attorney by outgoing Mayor Gavin Newsom on Jan. 9 to replace Kamala Harris, who is now California’s attorney general. Gascon’s second-in-command, Jeff Godown, is now acting chief.
Several commissioners noted tonight that the incoming chief, whether an internal candidate from the Police Department or someone from outside the department, could be out of the job months from now.
San Francisco elects a new mayor in November, and the police chief serves at the mayor’s discretion.
“The pool of candidates is going to be limited by the political realities,” commission vice president Joe Marshall said.
Mazzucco said the commission had already received one application, but he did not say who it was.
The applicants and the eventual nominees will be kept a secret, especially from the prying eyes of the media, several commissioners noted.
During the seven-month selection process that led up to Gascon’s selection as chief, several names were floated in the media. However, Gascon’s name was never mentioned.
It was revealed this week that Oakland police Chief Anthony Batts is one of two final candidates for police chief of San Jose.
Commissioners said that revealing the names of applicants could harm their ability to keep their current jobs.
Rather than conduct a search process as extensive as the last one, San Francisco police commissioners said they hoped to keep the process transparent but expeditious.
They will likely use much of the criteria for candidates used in the last search, described tonight by Mazzucco as including a “community-focused” approach, respect for the rank and file of the department, an “inspirational leader,” an “agent of change,” a crime fighter, an innovator and communicator, and someone who is media savvy, has respect for diversity, and an appreciation of immigration issues.
Mazzucco said the commission’s goal should be to pick a chief that is “so strong” that the next mayor will want to keep him or her in place.
Commissioner Petra De Jesus cautioned that it was important “not to fit the criteria to a pre-ordained individual.”
Ari Burack, Bay City News