To embrace community policing as the culture of our organization more closely, we have reorganized the San Francisco Police Department. A key component of this process is the effective integration of community stakeholders into our problem-solving efforts to reduce crime and the fear of crime.
Community policing in San Francisco is becoming the way we conduct business every day. Our efforts are being focused on the shared responsibility of working with our diverse communities to nurture our relationships and create effective problem-solving models to enhance public safety.
Upon my arrival in San Francisco, I evaluated the current policing model that was in place. We established working groups with various stakeholders to review our business practices and recommend improvements. After hundreds of hours of evaluation and discussion among the working groups, a plan for the reorganization of the Police Department was developed and recently implemented.
Highlights of the first phase of the reorganization include the restructuring of the department’s bureaus, which will improve the span of control, authority and accountability of each one. We also have decentralized various investigative units and moved many inspectors out to the 10 district stations.
Additionally, Community Advisory Boards composed of neighborhood leaders and local officers are being developed at district stations, and Community Forums composed of local and regional leaders are being established through my office, to embed community policing and problem-solving practices into our daily activities. We also have created a Community Relations Unit to coordinate relationships with our community partners.
These changes will not only allow the SFPD to provide better service to the community we serve, but will ensure that the community has a voice in how we provide that service.
Prior to the reorganization, there was an extra layer of command between the community and the police chief. The previous organizational structure also diminished our ability to focus our resources into a cohesive, departmentwide community policing vision. Furthermore, our centralized investigations model did not encourage neighborhood-level problem-solving and crime-reduction efforts.
By streamlining our bureaus and consolidating functions with similar missions, we are able to elevate the authority of the bureau’s assistant chiefs to that of “second in command,” with each reporting directly to the police chief. All uniformed and investigative functions are now under one command, immediately improving communication between patrol and investigative personnel.
Also, with the creation of our Compstat unit, we now have enhanced accountability and performance-measurement capabilities. The Compstat unit is led by a commander who directly reports to the chief.
Consistent with the recommendations contained in the Police Effectiveness Review studies, the assignment of a fifth lieutenant to each district station as a resource manager overseeing investigations, plainclothes operations and problem-solving teams has been accomplished. Additionally, each station now has been assigned a designated crime analyst to assist in providing our captains with the timely and accurate information required for them to direct station resources to where they are most needed and can be most effective. These additions to our district stations will provide immediate benefits not only to our officers, but to the community as well.
The reorganization of the San Francisco Police Department is under way, and we will continually evaluate and reflect upon the changes that have been or will be made. Our commitment to our community and to our community policing partnership is as strong as ever. We will take every opportunity to work with the community in order to continually enhance the levels of service we provide.
George Gascón is the chief of the San Francisco Police Department.