Goin' Down South? With LAPD's Top Cop Stepping Down, Will George Gascon's Tenure in S.F. Be Brief?

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Hello, I must be going?
When San Francisco's police chief-to-be was introduced to throngs of media members in a rather small, stuffy room earlier this summer, your humble narrator got to ask George Gascon one question. And he gave us zero answers.

"How long a commitment have you given the city?" we queried.

"This is a great city and I've been made to feel very welcome," he replied.

Well, okay then.

That question looms a bit larger now with the news that William Bratton, the chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, has announced his mid-term resignation. Gascon spent the bulk of his career with the LAPD, applied for the top job eventually awarded to former NYPD chief Bratton, and then served as one of Bratton's right-hand men until taking over the Mesa, Ariz. police department in 2006. Among city employees, police brass, and others we've talked to since Gascon's hiring, more than a few have bandied about the notion that San Francisco's chief hopes to one day lead his old outfit, the LAPD. Yes, we've heard the words "stepping stone" employed. Is this so? We phoned Gascon to ask the question of the chief himself.

Gascon said that he found out about Bratton's retirement the same way everyone else did -- by reading the newspaper. And he confirmed to SF Weekly that he would not be applying for the vacant LAPD position.

"It's not a surprise," said Gascon of Bratton's resignation in the midst of his second term. "He achieved all the things he was looking to achieve. He's probably the best chief of police in this country today. The term is an artificial deadline; he already achieved all the goals he set out to do. I had no inside knowledge he was leaving, but this did not surprise me."

Asked if he now has a clearer idea of how long he'd like to be San Francisco's chief, Gascon said that's a question he couldn't answer.

"It's almost an unfair question because I don't have a contract," said Gascon, who will be officially sworn in on Friday. "The mayor could decide tomorrow that he wants a different person and I'd be unemployed and on line. There's no certainty to the process. But I am very happy here, very excited being here, and I am not applying for that [L.A.] job."

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