Incoming San Francisco Police Chief George Gascon -- the subject of this week's SF Weekly cover story
-- is certainly walking into a dicey situation in his avowed attempts to shake up San Francisco's problematic police department. But it's better than filing for unemployment, which he confirmed was imminent in his current post as police chief of Mesa, Ariz. Gascon told the East Valley Tribune
that he had been informed, in no uncertain terms, that his days as Mesa's chief were numbered: "I was not pressured to resign," said the chief. "I was told I would get terminated." Mesa city officials denied that they had bluntly told Gascon the heave-ho was imminent. At issue was Gascon's April testimony before Congress
in which he argued that local police agencies should not be utilized as de-facto immigration agents -- and directly criticized the heavy-handed policies of Maricopa County, Ariz. Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Gascon's trip to Washington, D.C. came under further scrutiny when it was revealed that he accepted a plane ticket from an immigrant rights group
; he subsequently paid the money back.
Gascon is scheduled to be sworn in as San Francisco's chief early next month. While he told the East Valley Tribune that he believes this job to be a rung up on the career ladder, it wasn't simple striving that induced him to leave Mesa. The controversy surrounding his Congressional testimony forced Gascon to take "a hard look" at his position in Arizona -- and spurred his move west.
"There's no question that this new opportunity was extremely
appealing to me, but there's also no question that events unfolded here
that accelerated my desire to move elsewhere," he said.