As Chief, George Gascón Was Asleep At The Wheel - SFPOA Journal

Thu, 06/04/2015 - 3:14pm

By Gary Delagnes (Republished from the May 2015 edition of the SFPOA Journal)One thing is certain; San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón would have made a fortune selling used cars, because this guy can sell anything. Just ask Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Public, who bought his hype and voted in California Proposition 47 in 2014, the disastrous law that released thousands of habitual criminals from state prison and onto the streets. One time used car salesman George Gascón authored that bill, and campaigned statewide for its passage. As a law, it’s a clunker, and it is breaking down in communities all across California. Disgusted home and small business owners look for the big fix. It’s not coming. The law is a lemon. And now the best switch-and-bait trick of all. DA Gascón is going to investigate pervasive corruption in the SFPD, based on events that occurred while he was the Chief of Police! But first, a short background on this contrived melodrama. While I was POA president, I found Gascón to be professional. We worked well together on most issues, but for the most part just stayed out of each other’s way. All of that started to change when I received a phone call from him in January of 2011. After only 17 months as Chief of Police, Mayor Gavin Newsom had offered him the job of District Attorney of San Francisco, which had been vacated when Kamala Harris was elected state Attorney general. He told me that he was going to accept the position. That was really the first time that I realized that the SFPD never mattered to George Gascón. This guy had never been invested in the department. It was a resume stop. We were simply his means to an end. I was stunned, but also wondered why Newsom would appoint a guy who had never tried a criminal case in his life. This had to be some kind of a joke. It has turned out to be a pretty big joke, and the joke is on us. I started to receive calls from assistant DA’s, public defenders, and even the Sheriff of San Francisco. Both DA’s and public defenders alike told me few criminals were actually standing trial. Most cases were being plea bargained and dismissed, and the happiest guy in San Francisco was Public Defender Jeff Adachi because none of his “clients” were going to jail for the crimes they had committed. The current Sheriff of San Francisco, Ross Mirkirimi, called me and said it wasn’t his place to tell the public, but the reality was nobody was going to jail and the place was empty. I was able to verify that the census in county jail was lower than it had been in years, Of course Gascón’s spin was he was going after serious offenders and wanted treatment programs for minor offenders. This guy had everybody hoodwinked. When he first came to San Francisco as police chief he declared he was a republican. Oops, that won’t work in SF, so then he was a democrat. In his first press conference upon becoming Chief of Police, he stated that he did not have a problem with illegal immigrants being deported if they had been arrested for a serious crime. Oops! As DA, he completely reversed field on that legal policy. Next, he claimed that the Hall of Justice needed to be protected from Middle Eastern terrorists. Oops. That won’t sell in San Francisco. ”What I meant to say,” he explained a few days later, “Was specifically Yemen and Afghan terrorists”. When he had first become Chief, he ordered “sweeps” of the Tenderloin to clear the neighborhood of drug dealers and homeless. He would rant and rave about the drug dealers and the homeless people and wanted them off the streets. Oops! Once appointed DA, the kinder, gentler Gascón changed that mantra entirely. Higher office would require compassion and understanding. Let somebody else worry about quality of life issues and street crime. He had bigger fish to fry. He is constantly redefining his image to pursue his individual political goals. Gascón’s position on the death penalty flipped three times: First it was “I won’t rule it out,” followed by “ I’ll never seek it”, followed by “I can’t completely rule it out.” Then came the Coup de Grâce. He pulled the ultimate fast sell on Californians. After re-election, Gascón dreamed up Proposition 47. Habitual criminals would receive citations rather than trips to jail as lesser felonies were reclassified to misdemeanors. 10,000 inmates would be released from prison and put back onto our streets. Anybody with five minutes of police experience could tell you the devastating effect this legislation would have on neighborhood merchants and small businesses. While criminals celebrated in the streets, it was the hapless beat cops who were left to explain to those same business owners and residents why “quality of life” crimes were no longer considered serious enough to enforce. Gascón’s excuse was that voluntary treatment programs and counseling were preferential and more effective. Yes, I said voluntary. Good luck with that! While cities such as New York and Chicago understood the importance of enforcing “quality of life” laws to ensure a healthy downtown business environment, San Francisco has gone in the opposite direction thanks to the policies of George Gascón, and much to the detriment of our small business owners. Go ask the Union Square merchants or the SF Chamber of Commerce if it has ever been this bad or if they have ever received so many complaints about quality of life issues. The drug-dealing situation in the Tenderloin is so out of control that the federal government is now conducting “buy programs” in the neighborhood and sending people to federal prison because Gascón won’t prosecute drug sales. Chief of Police Gascón wanted the problem cleaned up. DA Gascón won’t even prosecute it. If you think I’m making this stuff up, read these numbers:Reported Stolen Autos January 1, 2014 to March 25, 2014..................1,202 January 1, 2015 to March 25, 2015.................. 1,415 ............... Up 18%Reported Assault with a deadly weapon January 1, 2014 to March 25, 2014.....................711 January 1, 2015 to March 25, 2015.....................780 ............... Up 10%Reported Auto Boostings January 1, 2014 to March 25, 2014..................1,465 January 1, 2015 to March 25, 2015..................2,184 ............... Up 48%Reported Larceny January 1, 2014 to March 25, 2014.................. 2,173 January 1, 2015 to March 25, 2015..................2,352 ............... Up 8%Reported Robberies January 1, 2014 to March 25, 2014.....................662 January 1, 2015 to March 25, 2015.....................847 ............... Up 28%In the past few months, two SFPD officers have been sentenced to Federal prison for on-duty criminal conduct. Seven more officers have been brought up on charges for racist and homophobic text messaging. DA Gascón calls the latter some of the worst stuff he has seen in 30 years of law enforcement. (Really, 23 years, as he claims he was a cop for seven years while he was actually in the business of selling cars. Another small fib!) This from a guy who was a supervisor in the LAPD during “Rodney King” and the “Ramparts” scandals. Really! It gets better. He tells the media that none of the SFPD incidents occurred while he was Chief! Oops! He now admits it did occur on his watch, but now says the Chief can’t be held accountable for everything that happens. A simple Wikipedia check shows that George Gascón was appointed San Francisco Chief of Police on August 7th, 2009, and concluded his term on January 9, 2011. Anybody who read one article regarding the police corruption case would have discovered that all of the incidents occurred between 2009 and 2011. Yet, nobody in the media challenges him.(Republished with permission of the SFPOA)