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Friday, August 7, 2009

Will Police Chief's New U.S. Homeland Security Gig Undermine S.F. Crime-Fighting?

Posted By on Fri, Aug 7, 2009 at 3:59 PM

click to enlarge Will tough-talking George Gascon kill the federal goose that lays golden eggs that buy police departments neat toys like this?
  • Will tough-talking George Gascon kill the federal goose that lays golden eggs that buy police departments neat toys like this?
Top S.F. crime-fighter is one of two new hats on the head of tough-talking new police chief George Gascon. He also last month signed on as a member of U.S. Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano's new task force to consider scrapping the frequently-ridiculed red-yellow-and-green terrorism warning system created after 9-11.

Since the system was created it has been a subject of parody for being vague and confusing, and for being used as a tool of political manipulation by former President George W. Bush.

On June 20, Homeland Security Chief Napolitano announced that Gascon -- then chief of Mesa, Ariz., the state Napolitano formerly served as governor -- would be on a 17-member task force to evaluate the current system. Presumably he'd be a source of the same kind of tough-minded pragmatism on the terrorism-warning task force as he's promised to dish out as the city's police chief.
But if he did, it might be bad for San Francisco.

While wasteful Homeland Security  programs such as the multicolor

terrorism warning system have done nothing to keep the country safe

from terrorists, that dysfunctional federal bureaucracy has been an ATM

machine for San Francisco law enforcement.

During 2003, San

Francisco police drew down $3.3 million in Homeland Security money to

pay overtime to officers monitoring Iraq war protests -- the most

for any California agency aside from the state highway patrol. Then-Mayor Willie Brown said the protection was designed to prevent

terrorists from using the distraction of protesters as cover to, say,

blow up the Golden Gate Bridge. Nationwide, the color-alert system has

been a boon for regional agencies hoping to use fear to justify

spending on things such as new weight rooms in the local police

station or armored assault vehicles for small towns no terrorist would dream of even flying over.

Gascon uses his hard-assed attitude on the task force assembled to

evaluate the color-code system, might this cornucopia of funds disappear?

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Matt Smith


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