The Outsider

George Gascon is S.F.'s first police chief in 30 years who wasn't homegrown — and he's promising big changes. Criminals and lazy cops, you have been warned.

Disgruntled ex-brass in Mesa describe a similar turn of events. "He came in chopping heads, and cutting out anything and everything in his path to get his message conveyed," said Federico, who retired in 2007 after 30 years. "His strong leadership style, it can be a benefit to a department. But I think he had a lot to gain by engaging his staff, which I don't think he did. He came here well prepared. He did his homework as far as the community of Mesa. But he didn't put much regard in his existing staff."

Gascon acknowledges that there was turmoil during his first year at the department. "Some people may feel they were pushed out, and if they feel that way, I'm not going to debate that," he said.

But Gascon said he had good reasons for driving what some commanders thought was a department purge: "There were people at high levels of the command staff who didn't know what the crime levels were. I remember talking to one of our command staff, and he gave me a blank stare and said he didn't know what the crime levels were. It's like walking into Microsoft and finding out they don't know what their products were or how they were performing."

In San Francisco, he adds, "I expect them to know what the business is, and what the practices are. For people who do not, that's going to be a problem."

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