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SF Police Chief: Protect and Preserve the Tenderloin

SF Police Chief: Protect and Preserve the Tenderloin

Can police Chief George Gascón clean up this San Francisco district without pushing the poor out?

John Buntin | Governing Magazine

May 07, 2010

As a 20-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, George Gascón isn’t exactly new to tough neighborhoods. During the late 1970s, he worked the Hollywood Division when the once-fabled neighborhood was known primarily for its transvestite streetwalkers and drug sales. In the late 1980s, he moved to Hollenbeck, a proud Chicano community in East L.A. with deep roots-and some of the city’s oldest gangs. But last summer, Gascón took a walk through the 20-block triangle of downtown San Francisco known as the Tenderloin just a few weeks before he was sworn in as San Francisco’s new police chief-and he was shocked by what he saw.

“It took me back, how open it was,” says Gascón. Drug dealers openly peddled their wares-OxyContin, crack cocaine, heroin-on the sidewalk as tourists wandered through and schoolchildren walked home. Dressed in civilian clothes, Gascón watched-“just really surprised, quite frankly”-as police officers simply drove by, not stopping to address the obvious criminal behavior taking place. To Gascón, the Tenderloin was like a scene from the 1970s, before the Broken Windows theory-from James Q. Wilson and George Kelling, which holds that outward signs of disorder give rise to crime (and conversely, that outward signs of order reduce it)-changed what behavior was acceptable in most cities.

“This is a place where there are no consequences,” says Gascón. “It was the norm of the place.” In Gascón’s mind, that made it the perfect place “to make a point.” And so, soon after being sworn into office as San Francisco’s new chief of police in August 2009, Gascón announced that one of his top priorities would be to clean up the Tenderloin. What followed, however, was anything but a straightforward application of proper police tactics. Instead, Gascón came face to face with difficult questions about how the city should house and serve its neediest residents. Arching over them is an even larger question: Can a troubled neighborhood be changed without changing its residents?

Continue reading Protecting and Preserving the Tenderloin at Governing Magazine

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  • Photo_user_banned_big

    TeaParty2012

    about 4 years ago

    68 Comments

    Hey people, it's San Francisco. Home of the lefties (Pelosi, Boxer,Feinstein,et al). What do you expect? Chief Gascon is dreaming. He'll never get the Socialist Commies at SF City Hall to go with this. He should go back to LAPD, he'll have a better chance of cleaning that city up.

  • Fallenherobadge-3-1_max50_max50

    aussie4

    about 4 years ago

    5328 Comments

    LA is one breed of animal, San Fran is another, it takes hard men to enforce the rules.

  • Car6_max50

    Ahi

    about 4 years ago

    1990 Comments

    Sounds like a hand full, best of luck!

  • Native_clip_art_4_049_max50

    Sheriff_1

    about 4 years ago

    8024 Comments

    Good luck in new position. You are going to have your hands full but collectively a solution can be reached.

  • Pug_max600_max50

    DALLASCRANE

    about 4 years ago

    19382 Comments

    The Tenderloin dates back to the Gold Rush. Rebuilt after the 1906 earthquake it's mostly single rooms or flats, many with whole families in one room. The chief can make inroads with the first step reaching the 3500 children who live there through the schools and then move to the adults. The area is not just GLBT, but includes a vast myriad of cultures who immigrated from Vietnam and other areas.

  • Evil_max50

    Scurge

    about 4 years ago

    1232 Comments

    Texas2010 says....
    navy_cop: not sure what is up with the attitude. I bet you also go up to black ppl and call them N****** huh? Because who cares about being politically correct. YOU go get a life, at least I'm comfortable with myself to not put others down, you obviously are not.

    Someone needs to understand the difference between politically correct (african-american) and the other term that is not socially exceptable.

  • Photo_user_banned_big

    navy_cop

    about 4 years ago

    104 Comments

    being politically correct is for @sshats who can't handle life btw....

  • Photo_user_banned_big

    navy_cop

    about 4 years ago

    104 Comments

    lol 2010 so let me guess you're a trany ....so are you pre or post surgery hahaha

  • Ba_old_glory_max50

    Jonas

    about 4 years ago

    42212 Comments

    Best wishes chief!!!

  • Cars---mater-02_max50

    chrissanders

    about 4 years ago

    5232 Comments

    Good luck Chief. I hope you can pull it off safely.

  • Photo_user_banned_big

    Texas2010

    about 4 years ago

    28 Comments

    navy_cop: not sure what is up with the attitude. I bet you also go up to black ppl and call them N****** huh? Because who cares about being politically correct. YOU go get a life, at least I'm comfortable with myself to not put others down, you obviously are not.

  • Anonymous-killer-whale-232189_1__max50

    Whalewatcher

    about 4 years ago

    11194 Comments

    I wish Chief Gascon the best of luck. I believe he's going to need it.

  • Photo_user_banned_big

    navy_cop

    about 4 years ago

    104 Comments

    texas2010.....who gives a rats @ss what the "correct term" is.....guess what I call them transvestites
    transvestite transvestite transvestite transvestite transvestite transvestite oh and transvestite.....now go get a life.

  • Photo_user_banned_big

    Texas2010

    about 4 years ago

    28 Comments

    This isn't the 70's, "transvestite" is not the correct term. Transgender is.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    about 4 years ago

    This is nothing new. In 1999 I visited San Fran and was amazed how many people openly sold drugs. One guy walked down the street holding a baggie waving it around yelling, "Weed, weed, weed, weed, weed" and when you did not show intrest he walked over to you and waved in your face chanting his one word slogan. this was in a nice part of the city too!

    I wish Chief Gascón nothing but the best luck, he's going to need it!

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