General Crime

* San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom Appoints New Top Cop Mesa, Ariz., Police Chief George Gascon He Will Replace Chief Heather Fong

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San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has named Mesa, Ariz., Police Chief George Gascon as the city’s new top cop, the mayor’s office confirmed tonight.Gascon will replace Chief Heather Fong, who announced her retirement in December, said Nathan Ballard, a spokesman for the mayor.Gascon became chief of the Mesa Police Department in August 2006 and served the Los Angeles Police Department for 28 years before moving to Arizona.”We are pleased that Chief Gascon is going to be taking the reigns of the San Francisco Police Department,” Ballard said.  San Francisco Police Commission president Theresa Sparks, who was informed by the mayor of the decision this afternoon, said Gascon had served as assistant police chief in Los Angeles and has “big city experience.”Gascon has “a tremendous crime fighting history” and experience in making organizational change, Sparks said.Following a five-month search, the Police Commission unanimously nominated three applicants last week. Sparks declined to name the other two applicants considered by the mayor.Ballard said Gascon will join Newsom at 11 a.m. Wednesday to make the official announcement in City Hall, and that Gascon is expected to begin his duties in July.”He will continue the reform initiated by Chief Fong,” Ballard said.Fong, a San Francisco native, became the city’s first female police chief in April 2004. She began as an officer in 1977, moving up through the ranks until her appointment by Newsom to head the department following the resignation of Chief Alex Fagan Sr.She presided over several departmental reforms, including the implementation of foot patrols, new zone policing strategies that have been credited with recent drops in violence, and efforts to foster better relationships between police and the community.Fong was widely praised by city leaders for her integrity, honesty and strong work ethic, but faced criticism by some members of the department who claimed she was not assertive enough as a leader.

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