SFPD Investigates Officer for Mouthing Off to Press

Sgt. Carl T of the San Francisco Police Department has never shirked from a battle with the PD's top brass. When a high-ranking commander ruled that he couldn't just go by “Carl T” on his name tag, he legally changed his last name from Tennenbaum to just “T.”

But after throwing some fighting words at his former boss George Gascón in SF Weekly, T faces a departmental spanking for his sass.

In our Jan. 12, 2011, cover story “The Gotcha Channel,” we detailed how the city's cops cooperated with the reality TV network truTV to produce Bait Car. In exchange for two fancy cars and more than $200,000 in overtime, police abandoned cars with keys in the ignition around the city. Once a dupe drove one away, the cops would arrest the perp, guns pulled, while cameras rolled.

In our story, T blasted his colleagues' participation. “There's enough legit crime in this city — why do you want to create more?” he said. About the overtime: “Everyone has their price and everyone can be pimped out — including cops.” About then-Chief Gascón: “He's a media whore.”

T heard rumblings he might get in trouble, but thought it had blown over, given that Gascón left the force to become district attorney the same week the story came out.

But in February someone did report T for “conduct unbecoming of an officer.” Sgt. Simon Kim of SFPD Internal Affairs contacted SF Weekly last month, hoping to find out “in what context the comments were made to disparage the chief at the time.” Kim would only say the complaint hailed from “the command staff,” who have serious concerns, “especially how [T] said, 'he's a media whore.' That didn't go over too well.”

We didn't give up any info, but T was certainly intrigued. After reporting for his interview with Kim last week, T hypothesized about who might have reported him. “The number one suspect is [Gascón's former assistant chief] Jeffrey Godown, Gascón's lapdog. You can quote me on that, too.”

We called Godown — set to join the Oakland police in the coming weeks — who laughed ruefully about T's characterization. “You can tell Carl T, from me, it was not me. Do we even know if Gascón didn't do it himself?”

Gascón's spokeswoman, Erica Derryck, said he wouldn't comment on a personnel matter, but Carl T doubts it was the district attorney now running for re-election. “The last thing Gascón needs right now is negative press that would come out of this.”

Kim said the fact that the backlogged investigators are only getting to the case now “tells you it's not that important….This is not really a major case.” Even T, counting the days until he retires in 22 months, doesn't seem too worried. “I'm kind of excited about all this,” he says.

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