SFPD chief candidates may have been snubbed in interview process 

Some high-profile local names were dropped from the list of 24 police chief candidates this week as the Police Commission began interviewing potential replacements for former Chief George Gascón.

The names of the high-ranking officers were divulged during a Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday when Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi slammed the process by which long-serving police brass were dropped from consideration. He also described the process as a “clumsy” one in which diverse police groups were not consulted about the search until the last minute. 

Citing rejection e-mails that were sent out to candidates, Mirkarimi said San Francisco police Capts. Denis O’Leary, Richard Corriea, Paul Chignell, Ann Mannix, John Goldberg and Steve Tacchini had been rejected from a short list without a chance to interview with the full Police Commission. Jim Molinari, a former captain who works for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, was also eliminated.

The Police Commission began interviewing candidates Tuesday, but nobody could say how many of the 24 serious candidates were given an interview time. The interviews are expected to last until March 12, with the commission providing three names to Mayor Ed Lee by March 15.

The fact that so many strong candidates were left out of the interview process led Mirkarimi to speculate that Gascón’s replacement has already been chosen.

“There are indicators that suggest that the decision on who the police chief is going to be is already known and that the simple exercise of vetting a police chief candidate is one of just that — an exercise,” Mirkarimi said.

Interim Chief Jeff Godown, Cmdr. James Dudley, Capt. Al Casciato, Assistant Chief Denise Schmitt and Bayview Police Station Capt. Greg Suhr have all been mentioned as possible candidates and may still be in the running. An unknown number of candidates outside the department are also being interviewed this week.

On Monday night, Police Commission members Thomas Mazzucco, James Hammer and James Slaughter spoke with union representatives and visited police stations to gauge what officers want to see in their new chief.

“They wanted someone who was committed to The City, who was going to stick around for a while,” Hammer said. “They also wanted someone who would jump into a patrol car and know what it’s like to work on the streets.”

Some of the officers denied an interview were reached by phone, but none would comment directly because it was a personnel matter. One chalked it up to the nature of The City, however.

“I think that San Francisco is a complicated city with a lot of folks involved,” Corriea said. “Any selection, be it a tree or median strip — including the chief of police — is complicated.”


Examiner Staff Writer Joshua Sabatini contributed to this report.

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