Search for San Francisco Police Department chief enters final stages 

The search for a new San Francisco police chief entered the stretch run, as the Police Commission conducted its final candidate interviews last weekend.

The commission won’t release the names of interviewees, but commissioners Thomas Mazzucco and Angela Chan said Saturday’s final interviews included external and internal candidates, and both men and women. They would not say how many people were interviewed.

“We’ve had some very good discussions, and we’ve had some very good interviews too,” Mazzucco said.

All seven commissioners agree the new chief has to embrace the changes made by former police Chief George Gascón, Mazzucco added. “We do not want to move backward,” he said.

On Tuesday, the commission is expected to submit the names of up to three finalists to Mayor Ed Lee, who will make the final choice.

“All the commissioners are working very hard,” Chan said. “We’re trying our best to vet the candidates given the limited time frame we’re in.”

Names mentioned recently as possible candidates included interim Chief Jeff Godown, Bayview police Capt. Greg Suhr and Assistant Chief Denise Schmitt.

On Sunday, Godown declined to say whether he is a finalist.

“It’s fair to say I would still be interested as of today,” he said. “I continue to move the department forward, until the mayor tells me otherwise.”

The process began in January after the sudden departure of Gascón to become The City’s district attorney. Godown, an assistant chief who worked with Gascón at the Los Angeles Police Department, was named interim chief.

Both men have since been occupied with a scandal involving officers accused of conducting illegal searches and falsifying police reports during Gascón’s time as chief. Whether that investigation will play into the Police Commission’s eventual selection remains to be seen.

In the course of the search, the commission has spoken with community groups, the police union and officers at district stations. An initial applicant pool of 75 candidates was later narrowed to 24.

Commissioners said residents want a police chief who can work more closely with the community on public safety issues.

“It’s all about mutual respect,” Mazzucco said.

aburack@sfexaminer.com

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