Wednesday, March 16, 2011

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón Talks with BOMA San Francisco Members

BOMA San Francisco Members:

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón visited the BOMA San Francisco office recently to discuss his transition to the District Attorney's office. 

About George Gascón

Prior to being sworn in as District Attorney on January 9, 2011, George Gascón led the San Francisco Police Department, having assumed the position of Chief of Police on August 7, 2009. Previously, Mr. George Gascón was the Chief of Police for the Mesa Police Department in Arizona for three years. District Attorney George Gascón's full biography can be found here.

The District Attorney's Offfice

The District Attorney's office  have over 200 staff working hard everyday to serve the people of San Francisco and fight crime. The office contains four major divisions: the Criminal Division, the Investigations Bureau, the Special Operations Division, and the Victim Services Division. 

Criminal Division: This division prosecutes felony and misdemeanor crimes. Felony prosecutions involve crimes that represent the greatest threat to the safety of the community and that can be punishable by state prison. Misdemeanor prosecutions involve less serious crime and have a maximum sentence of city jail. The Criminal Division is divided into 12 different units, including: misdemeanors, preliminary hearings, general litigation, narcotics, domestic violence, gangs, sexual assault, child assault, juvenile, cold hits, homicide, and writs and appeals. Sharon Woo, Chief of the Criminal Division, 553-1754.

Investigations Bureau: District Attorney Investigators play a critical role in prosecuting offenders. The District Attorney's Bureau of Investigations (DAI) is composed of sworn peace officers who work closely with our prosecutors to fully develop documentary, physical, and testimonial evidence for trial. Jim Crisolo, Chief of Investigations, 553-1030.

Special Operations Division: The Special Operations Division investigates and prosecutes various types of corruption and white-collar crime committed within San Francisco. The Division is divided into 6 units: public integrity, elder abuse, bad check enforcement, consumer protection, environmental justice, and insurance fraud. June Cravett, Chief of the Special Operations Division, 551-9500.

Victim Services Division: The Victim Services Division provides comprehensive services and support to victims of crime and witnesses to crime. The services include: assistance with Victims of Crimes Compensation Program claims; crisis intervention; help navigating the criminal justice system; resources and referrals; witness protection; child care assistance or transportation; and more. Maria Bee, Chief of Victim Services, 553-9044.

Community Courts: Residents Leading Neighborhood Improvement

Mr. Gascon is a proponent of Community Courts--which is separate from the Community Justice Center-- and feels that the current system in place should be utilized more effectively.  Indeed, many San Francisco neighborhoods are impacted by a high volume of low-level quality of life offenses that deteriorate neighborhood conditions and frustrate residents. To empower residents and hold offenders accountable, the DA's Office orchestrates the Community Courts program in all 10 police districts. Community Courts is a collaboration between City departments, neighborhood residents and merchant associations to hold "court" in the community and compel adult offenders charged with misdemeanors to restore the impacted neighborhood. Residents comprise the panel of judges that hear the cases and come up with appropriate sentences for each offender, such as community service, graffiti removal, etc. Community Courts also orders offenders to pay restitution to victims who have suffered monetary losses or property damage.

Office Reorganization to Improve Effectiveness, Maximize Resources and Increase Public Safety

Mr.Gascón is streamlining the operations in the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office with an office-wide restructuring. The effort includes a reduction in the Office’s executive staff and realignment of key prosecution teams.

He has also laid out a plan for the formation of working groups to examine a number of internal and external issues and topics that include: workload analysis and backlog reduction, family violence (DV, Elder Abuse, Child Abuse), communications, including information dissemination and public records, and technology. The intent of the working groups is to identify and highlight areas of focus to be examined in the coming year.

District Attorney’ Gascón’s implementation of the new operations structure and formation of the working groups was informed by discussions with key members of San Francisco’s criminal justice community, as well as other city and state actors and District Attorney’s Office staff at all levels. These announcements come less than two months into District Attorney Gascón’s tenure.

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