Chief Gascón Addresses Driver Accountability at Swearing-In Presser

Gascon.jpgSFPD Chief Gascón. Photo: Matthew Roth

At a press conference today immediately after Mayor Gavin Newsom swore in SFPD’s new police Chief George Gascón, the city’s top cop, responding to a question from Streetsblog, addressed a number of issues central to his command, including, notably, how driver behavior can endanger certain neighborhoods as much or more than violent crime.

Many times we’re concentrating on homicides, and we should, but many communities will lose more people, and more property, and there’s more damage and injuries through bad driving behavior, than of course through crime. If you look at my record when I was in Mesa, [Arizona] and at the LAPD, we put a lot of emphasis on driver behavior. It’s important to do so because that’s a part of public safety.

When asked whether he would segregate traffic statistics from Compstat, as some cities have done with their data collection, Gascón said he felt that traffic statistics would be part of Compstat, on similar footing with other crime statistics.

To me Compstat is all-encompassing. We’re going to deal with traffic, we’re going to deal with crime, we’re going to deal with overtime usage, we’re going to deal with sick time, all of that. It’s an accountability process–we look at a command and we start analyzing, what are the pieces within the command that need to be fixed. Can we do it all at once, obviously not. There’s no such thing as Trafficstat and Overtimestat. It’s Compstat.

  • Great work guys!! Will be interesting to see if any msm outlet pick up on this.

  • Nick

    I think the city needs a way to get bad drivers off the road (or re-educate them) before their reckless behavior causes them to injure or kill someone.

    Perhaps a database where citizens can report license plate numbers of reckless drivers. How often do you want to report something you see, but you don’t because nothing ever comes of it? After a certain number of independent complaints, the person faces some sort of accountability.

    Or 40,000 people can contine to die each year.

  • kit

    @nick,

    Interesting idea, but it seems a bit subjective. What’s to stop you from getting enough people together to take someone off the road out of spite or because you just don’t like them, regardless of their driving ability. Sure, you could have an appeals system, but then cost would grow wildly.

    I think the first step is for city cops to receive better training and incentives to pursue traffic offenders. Bookings are frequently done through the CHP on things like DUI because Police and Sheriff’s officers don’t know the law well enough to do the arrest properly and in a way that will assure the evidence is collected in a way that will hold water in court.

  • fogcity

    Going after bad driving behaviour will also mean bad bike riding behaviour will be a target.
    In communnity meeting after community meeting with the PD people complain about cyclists running stop signs and barrelling through crosswalks while peds are crossing.
    In the Ingleside Station district, where the PERF recommendations are being rolled out the PD have been doing ped stings. Each time cara after car is nailed and citations are issued. Bikes are going to be included, stopped and cited.
    Be careful and always give the right of way. That is the minimum we all should do when operating vehicles on streets.

  • I like the new chief already! Yes, let’s make drivers think that traffic laws are enforced …. feel free to drive up the fines to ridiculous levels because God knows the idea is to make sure folks don’t drive excessively fast or recklessly to start with, not so much to just smack their hands afterwards.

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