New SFPD chief begins restructuring

August 11, 2009 1:09:40 PM PDT
New San Francisco Police Chief George Gascon has begun a 90-day restructuring of the department that will include assessing the chain of command, increasing accountability and establishing community advisory groups to work with police, he said Tuesday.

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The reforms will "try to create a structure that is more responsive to the needs of the community, as well as the needs of the organization," in order to better fight crime, Gascon told reporters this morning at the San Francisco Hall of Justice.

"The objective here is to make San Francisco the safest large city in the country," he said.

In the community advisory forums, which will typically be held monthly, members of the Asian, Hispanic, African-American, business, youth, and gay and lesbian communities will be represented, Gascon said.

He said the forums will be small and be made up of "key individuals" that can speak for each community.

"We're going to talk about larger policy issues," Gascon said.

Another part of the reorganization will include the initial implementation of the CompStat crime pattern tracking system, designed to more easily track crime in neighborhoods and identity specific areas in which police need to focus.

"It's really an accountability process," Gascon said. "Understanding what the numbers are, and 'What are you doing about the numbers?'"

More detectives will be deployed to the district police stations to get them out on the street in greater numbers and help increase the department's crime clearance rates.

Gascon said those detectives will focus mainly on property crimes and lesser crimes against individuals, while homicide detectives "will probably continue to be centralized."

Another priority for Gascon is improving technology overall within the department. He said the current state of affairs "surprised" him, as he expected more efficient technology in such an affluent city in the heart of a high-tech region.

Gascon called the next 90 days "the first cut" and said it would be part of an evolving process.

Gascon said he's still getting to know the department, and the city, but that he feels welcome.

"It has been very nice to see how I have been embraced within the organization, as well as the community," he said.

Gascon, who was just sworn in Friday, was still without his police uniform today. The uniform is still being tailored, he said, smiling.

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