Saturday, October 31, 2009

Praise for our new top cop

The letter below is from Warren Hinckle's blog:

Police Chief Earns His Pay
October 25th, 2009
By John Shanley

Argonaut Editor's Note: John Shanley is a native San Franciscan. He is a former spokesperson for District Attorney Terence Hallinan and recently served as a deputy city attorney assigned to the San Francisco Police Department.

My phone started ringing on Friday afternoon as word began to spread that newly appointed San Francisco Police Chief George Gascon had assigned sidelined veteran officers Gregory Corrales and Greg Suhr to head up Mission and Bayview stations respectively.

Both of these officers had their careers put on hold because in recent years discipline within the SFPD is akin to being sent to Siberia. For years the department, in blatant violation of the peace officer bill of rights, tried officers personnel matters in public. While this may sound like a good idea to people who know nothing about policing, it was not only illegal, it was bad public policy.

And it did NOTHING to further police-community relationships. I know because I assisted Bill Fazio in defending Captain Corrales who had charges relating to the Fahitagate scandal hang over his head for eight years. He was charged with talking to the media (which officers are encouraged to do under their general orders). The comments he made also turned out to be accurate, much to the chagrin of those who like to kick cops.

Why does it take eight years to resolve police personnel issues? Great question. Let me suggest it is because we have had cowardly political leadership and an absolute mouse running the department for eight years. Now I have nothing against mice. My niece thinks they are cute. Perhaps they are, but they should not run police departments.

A police chief is the appropriate person to make the vast majority of calls when it comes to police discipline. Pushing every case to a commission full of people seeking political office is, well, cowardly. And cowardice is a poor quality in a political leader or in a police chief.

So three cheers to our current chief who has decided to earn his hefty paychecks by making a few decisions. Welcome to SF, Chief Gaston. The natives are pleased.


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