sfpd_cityhall.jpgThe San Francisco Police Commission is expected to begin formally discussing the selection of a new police chief at its meeting tonight, and the man who just left the job said his replacement will likely come from within the department.

Former Police Chief George Gascon resigned on Jan. 9 to take the position of district attorney. His second-in-command, Jeff Godown, is now acting police chief.

Under the city charter, the seven-member Police Commission, whose members are appointed by the mayor and the Board of Supervisors, is tasked with selecting up to three nominees for police chief to submit to the mayor, who will then appoint the chief.

An appointment is not expected at tonight’s meeting. Rather, the commission plans to discuss the qualifications and procedures for selecting nominees, and a timeline for the process.

Gascon, speaking at an event in Chinatown today, said the next chief will likely be a current department employee.

“I believe there’s plenty of talent internally,” he said. “The next chief could very well come from inside the department.”

Gascon declined to say who he might recommend, saying, “that’s the job of the police commission and mayor.”

But he said that the next chief should be someone who can work well with officers, the community, the mayor and the Board of Supervisors.

He said his successor should “take the department to the next level” by continuing to lower crime rates. Police Department statistics show that violent crimes dropped 3 percent from 2009 to 2010.

The police chief serves at the mayor’s discretion, so the person chosen could have a brief tenure since Mayor Ed Lee is expected to return to his former job as city administrator after the next mayoral election in November.

Police commissioners said during last week’s meeting that the selection process will likely not be as lengthy as the one that preceded Gascon’s appointment in 2009.

At the time, the commission took several months to solicit input from community and faith-based leaders, as well as officers in every police district.

Commissioner Angela Chan said at last week’s meeting that she hopes for “an open, transparent process where we get public comment and listen to the community.”

Today’s meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. in Room 400 at San Francisco City Hall at 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place.

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