Know Your Potential Future Police Chief: George Gascon
Recently on this page, we noted that Harold Hurtt, potentially Police Chief Heather Fong's successor in San Francisco -- may be out of a job altogether if he doesn't land the top slot here: One of the mayoral candidates in Houston has pledged to fire Hurtt if elected.
No such quandary exists for George Gascon, the Mesa, Ariz. chief also widely acknowledged to be in the running for the city's top cop job. But Gascon has enjoyed an interesting ride in the Grand Canyon state -- and, with Mayor Gavin Newsom potentially announcing San Francisco's next chief sometime this week, we figured this was as good a time as any to get to know our potential next chief.
Gascon's signature silver-fox look isn't a recent addition -- but anyone could grow gray hairs during three solid years of butting heads with Maricopa County's Sheriff Joe Arpaio -- whom critics accuse of racist demagoguery via his aggressive, attention-getting anti-immigration raids and his alleged coddling of the white supremacists and neo-nazis delighted by his racial politics. (Full disclosure: coverage of Arpaio's exploits by the Phoenix New Times led to Village Voice Media Executive Editor Michael Lacey and Chairman/CEO Jim Larkin actually being arrested and jailed by Maricopa County Sheriff's Deputies).
Gascon's willingness to scrap with Arpaio obviously won favor with our colleagues at the New Times -- who, themselves, were subjected to an Arpaio-launched probe. In any event, if Newsom et al. are searching for someone who will carry out San Francisco's sanctuary city policies in the face of withering right-wing criticism, it seems Gascon is a good fit for that.
Of note: He informed Arpaio that he wanted two days notice prior to any immigration-raids coming through Mesa; and defended his policies (and, in doing so, chided Arpaio's) this year via Congressional testimony.
Of course, not everyone is so enamored of Gascon. Among other things, he was accused of careerism by Mesa city councilman Dennis Kavanaugh, who referred to Gascon as "The Rick Pitino of chiefs."
Pitino, incidentally, is well-known for using each successive college or pro basketball coaching gig as a stepping stone for the next one; either that or Kavanaugh is making some sort of parallel between Gascon's law-enforcement philosophy and Pitino's penchant for employing the full-court press. We're guessing it's the former.