Sheriff Michael Hennessey: ‘Typically’ new police chief means more people in jail 

Whenever a new chief takes the reins of the Police Department there is historically a spike in inmates to San Francisco County Jail, Sheriff Michael Hennessey said this week at a hearing on his department budget.

“Typically, after a new chief of police comes in our population does tend to go up, but that’s merely a historical observation and it’s not based on anything other than what has happened in the past,” Hennessey said.

That was definitely the case with police Chief George Gascón, according to Hennessey. When Gascón came to the department in 2009, one of his first acts was to stop drug dealing in the Tenderloin. That resulted in a deluge of arrests.

“Jail population is, to a large degree, based on police activity,” Hennessey said. “I don’t always know what the police department is doing, what their priorities are, what they’re doing. What I do know is that when Chief... Gascón came to town, our jail population shot up by 400 people within 90 days because of new police initiatives and priorities.”

So the question now becomes whether the same will happen with police Chief Greg Suhr.

For his part, Gascón acknowledged on Thursday that the jail population spiked during his first months as chief, but he also pointed out that on average the jail population was lower during his 17-month tenure than during the previous year.

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