Police chief hopefuls should prep resumes quickly 

Consider the search for the next San Francisco police chief more of a meet-and-greet scenario. You might want to get your introduction in quick.

The last time city officials picked a new chief, the process took seven months. By comparison, the next chief may only be in office about seven months.

Which is to say, don’t expect an outsider. In fact, for the first time in months dealing with high-level office picks, don’t expect a shocker. If the interim chief selection comes from outside the department, it means the mayor decided to take a New Jersey state trooper or a small-town chief who wanted to pad their résumé shortly before retirement.

And the odds of that happening are about as likely as Chris Daly giving up his saloon job to run for mayor. He’d be a fool to do it — which shows that, yes, there still is a slight chance.

But barring that, the next police chief selection is going to be as much about speed as credentials. Those interested in the short-term post better be working on their résumés before the deadline passes. It’s almost here.

At the Police Commission hearing this week, it will be formally announced that the position to replace George Gascón — who left last week to serve as district attorney — is open, and that those interested should be prepared to state their intentions within the next 10 days or so.

The need for speed is obvious. Whoever gets the job will only have time to learn it by the time a new mayor is elected and can choose to do a search all over again.

Or not.

Newly instated Mayor Ed Lee said that he has no problem picking a candidate who conceivably could remain in the job long after his term ends this year. That’s one of the reasons he said that he didn’t give the Police Commission “any direction" as to whether the person should come from inside or outside the department. If they have the proper skills and qualifications — as in being much like Gascón — than he’ll be a happy mayor for the 11 months.

“We’re not looking for anybody temporary,” Lee told me. “There is no time limit on the job. If the person does a good job, then anybody who’s the next mayor should recognize it and act accordingly."

This much we know — Gascón’s hand-picked successor, acting Chief Jeff Godown — will not get the job. Despite contrary statements to various media outlets about his interest in the post, he told me that “no, no, no,” he has no desire to take the job. And that’s probably a good thing, because the nearly two dozen people I talked to say he’s not qualified for it.

Godown, like many other members of the department’s command staff, has enjoyed a rather meteoric rise during Gascón’s brief tenure, going from the assignment of inspector in the Los Angeles Police Department (where he worked with the former chief) to commander and assistant chief.

That ascension — as well as that of his fellow commanders — has rankled many of the veteran leaders in the department who wonder why a relatively untested person is now assuming control over an agency with more than 2,000 employees.

Godown’s brash persona as the so-called “bad cop” in Gascón’s administration — which he says was all about holding the department’s brass “accountable” — came off, depending whom you talked to, as either arrogant, condescending or rude, and has not won him a lot of fans.

Godown appears to be aware of this, which is why at a meeting last week, he asked the department’s leaders to be somewhat easy on him during the transition, since he understands what it’s like to have his combat boots stepped on.

“I understand the feeling of the rank-and-file as to when an outsider comes in and assumes control,” he said. “My goal is just to continue to move the department forward. There are a lot of qualified people here to be the next chief and I want to be part of this place for a long time.”

Long is not a word likely associated with the next chief. Still, The City is full of surprises.

About The Author

Ken Garcia

Pin It

Speaking of Columnists

More by Ken Garcia

Latest in Ken Garcia

© 2019 The San Francisco Examiner

Website powered by Foundation