George Gascón

George Gascón (born March 12, 1954) is an American attorney who is the district attorney of Los Angeles County. Gascón previously served as the district attorney of San Francisco from 2011 to 2019, as an assistant chief of police for the LAPD, and chief of police in Mesa, Arizona and San Francisco.

George Gascón
George Gascon official portrait.jpg
43rd District Attorney of Los Angeles County
Assumed office
December 7, 2020
Preceded byJackie Lacey
28th District Attorney of San Francisco
In office
January 9, 2011 – October 19, 2019
Preceded byKamala Harris
Succeeded bySuzy Loftus (interim)
Chesa Boudin
Chief of the San Francisco Police Department
In office
January 8, 2010 – January 9, 2011
Preceded byHeather Fong
Succeeded byGreg Suhr
Chief of the Mesa Police Department
In office
2006–2009
Preceded byDennis Donna
Succeeded byFrank Milstead
Personal details
Born (1954-03-12) March 12, 1954 (age 67)
Havana, Cuba
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Fabiola Kramsky
EducationCalifornia State University, Long Beach (BA)
Western State College of Law (JD)

Gascón was born in Havana, Cuba. In 1967 his family immigrated to the United States and settled in Bell, California. He joined the United States Army at the age of eighteen and became a sergeant.[1] After earning a bachelor of arts in history from California State–Long Beach, Gascón joined the Los Angeles Police Department as a patrol officer.

During his tenure with the Los Angeles Police Department, he attained the rank of assistant chief of police under Chief William Bratton. In 2006, Gascón was appointed as chief of police for the Mesa Police Department. He had frequent clashes with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio over immigration sweeps targeting Latinos.[2] In 2009, then-Mayor Gavin Newsom appointed Gascón as the chief of police for the San Francisco Police Department. In 2011, after Kamala Harris was elected California Attorney General, Newsom appointed Gascón to be the San Francisco district attorney. In 2019, Gascón announced he was running to be the district attorney for Los Angeles County.[3]

Early life and educationEdit

In 1954, Gascón was born in pre-communist Cuba. Shortly after the communist revolution in Cuba, Gascón's father lost his job for alleged anti-government activity, and his uncle, a union organizer, was jailed for over a decade.[4] In 1967, Gascón and his family immigrated from Cuba to the United States.

The Gascón family settled in Bell, California, a suburb of Los Angeles.[5] At the age of thirteen, Gascón enrolled in Los Angeles Unified School District schools where he struggled to learn English. He recalled: "I was spending hours translating everything with a Spanish-English dictionary. I started missing a lot of school."[6] By 1972, he dropped out of Bell High School.[6][7]

Gascón joined the United States Army in 1972. In the army, he earned his high school diploma and two years toward an undergraduate degree.[7] Gascón served in the 64th Military Police Detachment, much of it in Germany.[7] In 1975, he received an honorable discharge as a sergeant.[7] After the Army, Gascón completed a bachelor of arts in history from California State-Long Beach while working sales jobs.[7]

Los Angeles Police DepartmentEdit

In 1978, Gascón joined the Los Angeles Police Department as a patrol officer.[7] After a three-year stint with the LAPD, he returned to work in business management.[7] He served as a reserve officer in the Hollenbeck Division of LAPD until 1987.[7] In 1987, he returned to LAPD as a full-time police officer.[8] Upon his return, he rose through the ranks of LAPD as a Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain, Commander, and Deputy Chief in 2002.[9] During his time with LAPD, Gascón earned his J.D. degree from Western State College of Law in 1996.

Training Commander after Rampart scandalEdit

In 2000, he took command of the LAPD training unit at the height of the Rampart scandal.[7] He was in command of the LAPD training unit, overseeing the LAPD Academy and in-service training, during the federal government's oversight of police reforms. Even though there was a mandate for reform, then-Police Chief Bernard Parks did not allocate funding for additional training.[10] Gascón used a grant that had originally been funded to research community-policing strategies, and produced three hundred thousand additional training hours.[10]

One of his first orders as training commander was to create an ethics training manual for the LAPD.[10] He also implemented problem-based learning and posted a copy of the bill of rights in every LAPD classroom. Michael Gennaco, the former head of the United States Justice Department's civil rights division said at the time: "He fundamentally changed the way the LAPD teaches its officers about civil rights."[7]

In 2002, Gascón applied to be the Los Angeles Police Department Chief of Police. He wanted to partner with community agencies to reduce California's prisoner-recidivism rate.[10] William Bratton was ultimately appointed Chief of Police.

Assistant Chief of PoliceEdit

In 2003, he was sworn in as Assistant Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department under Chief William Bratton.[9][11] In 2004, Gascón oversaw the daily operations of the department.[7] William Bratton credited Gascón with helping reduce the rate of violent crime in Los Angeles at that time.[2]

Mesa Chief of PoliceEdit

In 2006, Gascón was hired as Chief of Police for the Mesa Police Department.[12] Gascón had frequent clashes with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio over immigration sweeps allegedly targeting Latinos. Arpaio regularly conducted saturation patrols and immigration sweeps, targeting Latino neighborhoods and day laborers. Arpaio allegedly stopped cars with Latino drivers or passengers to check their immigration status.[2][13] Gascón condemned the policies and tactics of Arpaio and his deputies, and actively worked to protect the Latino community in Mesa.[2]

Gascón served as chief of the Mesa, Arizona police department from 2006 to 2009.[14]

San Francisco Chief of PoliceEdit

Gascón served as San Francisco Police Department chief from August 2009 to January 2011, succeeding Heather Fong. He was replaced by Greg Suhr.[15] In 2009, San Francisco saw a significant drop in homicides, falling from 96 in 2008 to 45 in 2009. Between 2009 and 2011, violent crime decreased in San Francisco.[16]

In March 2010, Gascón made remarks about San Francisco's susceptibility to terrorism by the "Middle Eastern community" that upset Arab-Americans.[17][18] Several San Francisco police officers accused Gascón of calling African-Americans "those people" in "a derogatory way." Gascón denied making those remarks.[19][20]

San Francisco District AttorneyEdit

In 2011, in his last act as Mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom appointed Gascón as San Francisco District Attorney, filling the seat vacated by Kamala Harris. In 2018, Gascón announced that he would not be seeking re-election, citing his need to care for his mother in Los Angeles.[21][22] He resigned from his San Francisco District Attorney position in October 2019.[23]

Bail reformEdit

Gascón advocated for the end of cash bail.[24] Gascón brought the Public Safety Assessment (PSA) tool to San Francisco to assist courts in making bail decisions more equitably. Initial results indicate that, compared to defendants released by the PSA, double the percentage of defendants were arrested while they were out on bail or their own recognizance.[25]

CriticismEdit

During Gascon's time as District Attorney, property crime increased by 49%. Some of Gascon's critics have blamed this increase on his office's reluctance to file charges against "low-level" offenders; during Gascon's tenure, misdemeanor charges were only filed in 40% of cases presented by the San Francisco Police Department.[26] Having worked with Gascon, San Francisco Mayor London Breed and City Attorney Dennis Herrera declined to endorse him in his bid to become the District Attorney of Los Angeles County; Breed and Herrera instead endorsed his opponent, the incumbent Jackie Lacey.[27]

Drug policyEdit

In 2018, Gascón announced that he would apply California's Adult Use of Marijuana Act retroactively to every marijuana case since 1975 in order to level the playing field for those adversely affected by the criminalization of marijuana. The move cleared misdemeanor convictions and reduced felony convictions for those entitled for record relief under the act.[28] He partnered with Code for America, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, which kicked off a national movement resulting in dozens of cities across the country clearing marijuana convictions.[29]

Gascón supports ending the war on drugs. Prop 47, which was co-authored by Gascón, reduced simple drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor in California.[30]

Data management systemEdit

Gascón implemented and launched the California's first prosecutorial data management system, similar to CompStat, called DA Stat.[31] This internal data collection tool is part of a trend toward "data-driven prosecution."

Investigations of police officersEdit

Gascón launched a Blue Ribbon Panel[32] to investigate a scandal in the San Francisco Police Department regarding homophobic and racist texts exchanged between over 14 police officers in 2014.[33]

In 2016, following recommendations of both the Department of Justice and Blue Ribbon Panel, Gascón secured funding to create the Independent Investigations Bureau, which investigates shootings involving police officers, excessive force, and in-custody deaths.[34]

Juvenile offendersEdit

Gascón helped launch San Francisco's Young Adult Court in 2015.[35] He described the program as "a hybrid of the adult and juvenile justice systems tailored to the biology and circumstances of offenders 18 to 24."[35] In the program, a prosecutor refers a case to the Alternative Sentencing Planner (ASP) who determines if alternatives to incarceration in the community are appropriate.[36]

In 2019, Gascón supported San Francisco's move to close juvenile Hall, citing studies showing that incarceration of juveniles significantly increases a young person's likelihood of recidivism and that "California’s juvenile facilities aren’t rehabilitating kids or making our communities safer."[37]

LegislationEdit

Gascón coauthored Senate Bill 962, legislation requiring a "kill switch" on all smartphones sold in California.[38]

Gascón co-authored Proposition 47 that reduced many crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. Proposition 47, according to one study, has reduced the disparity in arrests in San Francisco between Caucasians and African Americans by nearly half.[39] Some have criticized the law.[40][41][42]

Sexual assaultEdit

Gascon filed a civil complaint against Uber alleging that the company failed to protect drivers from sex offenders and other people who have been convicted of serious felonies.[43]

Weekend rebookingEdit

Gascon expanded the DA's Charging Unit to support "weekend rebooking" in order to reduce the jail population and reduce time in custody for individuals who will ultimately not be charged with a crime.[44]

Los Angeles County District AttorneyEdit

In 2019, Gascón announced he was running to be the District Attorney for Los Angeles County.[3] The Los Angeles Police Protective League contributed one million dollars to defeat Gascón.[45] During the race, he indicated that he supported creating a civil rights division within the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.[46] He defeated incumbent DA Jackie Lacey on November 6.[47]

TenureEdit

Gascón began his time as Los Angeles DA by announcing that his office would not seek cash bail for certain offenses (and would seek release for those currently awaiting such bail), would never seek the death penalty, and would end the charging of juveniles as adults. He also announced plans to reevaluate any sentence for which the prisoner had already served 20 years, and to reopen some cases of officer-involved shootings from the previous eight years.[48] His policies have sparked outrage from some victims and their families and concern from some of his own prosecutors.[49][50][51]

Recall effortEdit

In February 2021 an effort began to place a proposition on an upcoming ballot to remove Gascón from office.[52] The recall is supported by the Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva and some former Los Angeles legal and law enforcement leaders.[53][54]

PublicationsEdit

  • "New Training Program Helps LAPD Meet Training Mandates," Police Chief, November 2001[55]

AwardsEdit

  • Visionary Award (2017), Southern California Leadership Network[56]
  • Top 100 Lawyers in California by the Daily Journal[57]
  • Anti-Defamation League's Civil Rights Award[58]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Stoltze, Frank. "George Gascon Has Said 'We Need To Turn Our Court System Upside Down.' Now He's Running To Be LA's Next DA". LAist. Archived from the original on May 9, 2020. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d Stern, Ray (July 10, 2008). "Mesa Police Chief George Gascón stares down Sheriff Joe Arpaio". Phoenix New Times. Archived from the original on August 1, 2020. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  3. ^ a b Arango, Tim (October 28, 2019). "George Gascon Enters Race for District Attorney in Los Angeles". The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 4, 2019. Retrieved February 9, 2020.
  4. ^ "Beyond the Law: District Attorney George Gascón's threat to San Francisco's business as usual". SF Weekly. June 9, 2016. Archived from the original on March 16, 2020. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  5. ^ "George Gascón running to unseat Jackie Lacey". Los Angeles Blade: LGBT News, Rights, Politics, Entertainment. February 20, 2020. Archived from the original on February 27, 2020. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  6. ^ a b Nevius, C. W. (January 7, 2012). "George Gascón: From high school dropout to DA". SFGate. Archived from the original on March 4, 2020. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "He Said No to Naysayers". Los Angeles Times. June 4, 2004. Archived from the original on March 4, 2020. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  8. ^ Rivera, Carla (January 10, 2011). "San Francisco Police Chief George Gascon named district attorney". The Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on March 4, 2020. Retrieved February 9, 2020.
  9. ^ a b "Two New Assistant Chiefs to be Sworn In at Police Commission Meeting - Los Angeles Police Department". lapdonline.org. Archived from the original on June 10, 2020. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  10. ^ a b c d Fremon, Celeste (September 4, 2002). "Rewriting the Book". LA Weekly. Archived from the original on July 31, 2020. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  11. ^ "Chief Bratton Makes Three Great Picks ... LA Community Policing". www.lacp.org. Archived from the original on August 1, 2020. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  12. ^ Branom, Mike. "Gascón to lead Mesa police department". East Valley Tribune. Archived from the original on July 31, 2020. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  13. ^ "George Gascón: The Fight For Justice | UCLA Blueprint". Archived from the original on May 14, 2020. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  14. ^ Mayor Picks Arizona Chief Archived August 21, 2019, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved April 24, 2018.
  15. ^ From High School Dropout to Police Chief Archived May 3, 2019, at the Wayback Machine Referenced October 9, 2019.
  16. ^ Berton, Justin (January 2, 2011). "S.F. cops: Homicide up, overall violent crime down". SFGate. Archived from the original on August 1, 2020. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  17. ^ Keeling, Brock (March 26, 2010). "Police Chief Gascón Angers Middle Eastern and Arab Community". SFist. Archived from the original on May 16, 2016. Retrieved April 27, 2016.
  18. ^ Knight, Heather (March 26, 2010). "Police chief's remarks on terrorism anger Arabs". SF Gate. Archived from the original on May 13, 2016. Retrieved April 27, 2016.
  19. ^ Ho, Vivian (March 9, 2016). "SF D.A. Gascón's divide with law enforcement deepens". San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on April 24, 2016. Retrieved April 27, 2016.
  20. ^ "SF Police Union Officials Claim DA Gascon Made Racist Remarks At Drunken Party". CBS SF Bay Area. March 2, 2016. Archived from the original on June 5, 2016. Retrieved April 27, 2016.
  21. ^ KGO (October 3, 2018). "San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon will not seek reelection". ABC7 San Francisco. Archived from the original on July 31, 2020. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  22. ^ "San Francisco Police Chief George Gascon named district attorney". Los Angeles Times. January 10, 2011. Archived from the original on March 4, 2020. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  23. ^ Lagos, Marisa (October 3, 2019). "San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon Resigns". KQED. Archived from the original on October 4, 2019. Retrieved October 4, 2019.
  24. ^ State must make cash bail system just and protect public safety Archived October 7, 2019, at the Wayback Machine Referenced October 9, 2019.
  25. ^ Bail or Jail? Tool Used by San Francisco Courts Shows Promising Results Archived May 3, 2019, at the Wayback Machine Referenced October 9, 2019.
  26. ^ Queally, James. "How Jackie Lacey's and George Gascón's time in office shapes the L.A. County D.A.'s race". The Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on July 21, 2020. Retrieved July 21, 2020.
  27. ^ McGahan, Jason. "Why Do Officials Who Worked with George Gascón in S.F. Appear to Be Snubbing Him Now?". Los Angeles Magazine. Archived from the original on August 1, 2020. Retrieved July 21, 2020.
  28. ^ San Francisco To Expunge Thousands Of Marijuana Convictions Archived October 7, 2019, at the Wayback Machine Referenced October 9, 2019.
  29. ^ SF district attorney to wipe out 9,000-plus pot cases going back to 1975 Archived October 7, 2019, at the Wayback Machine Referenced October 9, 2019.
  30. ^ "Prop. 47 is necessary to put war on drugs behind us". SFChronicle.com. November 23, 2018. Archived from the original on March 6, 2020. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  31. ^ SF DA Gascón launches state's first website showing prosecution data Archived July 9, 2019, at the Wayback Machine Referenced October 9, 2019.
  32. ^ Blue Ribbon Panel Archived November 14, 2019, at the Wayback Machine Referenced October 9, 2019.
  33. ^ San Francisco cops accused of exchanging racist text messages Archived October 7, 2019, at the Wayback Machine Referenced October 9, 2019.
  34. ^ The San Francisco District Attorney is now the lead investigator of police shootings Archived June 25, 2019, at the Wayback Machine Referenced October 9, 2019.
  35. ^ a b Singal, Jesse (April 18, 2017). "San Francisco's Trying to Lock Up Fewer Young Men by Heeding Cognitive Science". The Cut. Archived from the original on November 15, 2018. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  36. ^ "Changing the Life Trajectory of Justice-Involved Young Adults in San Francisco". www.hks.harvard.edu. Archived from the original on July 31, 2020. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  37. ^ "Open Forum: San Francisco is right to close juvenile hall". SFChronicle.com. June 10, 2019. Archived from the original on August 1, 2020. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  38. ^ Cell Phone Thefts Decrease in S.F. Archived October 7, 2019, at the Wayback Machine Referenced October 9, 2019.
  39. ^ Research finds Prop. 47 has reduced racial disparities in drug arrests Archived October 7, 2019, at the Wayback Machine Referenced October 9, 2019.
  40. ^ Los Angeles Times "Movement builds to correct major flaw in Prop. 47" Archived February 28, 2020, at the Wayback Machine.
  41. ^ California Globe "How Prop. 47 Fueled the Homeless Epidemic" Archived February 28, 2020, at the Wayback Machine.
  42. ^ San Diego Union Tribune [1] Archived December 30, 2019, at the Wayback Machine "Criminal justice reform is a great cause. Defending a bad law isn’t."
  43. ^ KGO (August 20, 2015). "San Francisco district attorney says Uber hires killers, rapists". ABC7 San Francisco. Archived from the original on August 1, 2020. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  44. ^ "City has a plan to prevent unneeded weekend jail stays". SFChronicle.com. June 20, 2017. Archived from the original on April 3, 2020. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  45. ^ "LA Police Union Contributes $1 Million To Anti-George Gascón PAC". The Appeal. Archived from the original on April 25, 2020. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  46. ^ Munoz, Anabel (December 12, 2019). "LA County DA challengers address homelessness, death penalty during debate". ABC7 Los Angeles. Archived from the original on April 16, 2020. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  47. ^ Kamisher, Eliyahu (November 6, 2020). "George Gascón Wins Race For Los Angeles D.A. In Major Victory For Progressive Prosecutor Movement". The Appeal.
  48. ^ Meeks, Alexandra; Holcombe, Madeline (December 8, 2020). "New Los Angeles DA announces end to cash bail, the death penalty and trying children as adults". CNN. Retrieved December 9, 2020.
  49. ^ Hayes, Rob (December 15, 2020). "LA County DA George Gascon's plan to reduce sentences sparks concern from his own prosecutors". KABC. Retrieved December 16, 2020.
  50. ^ Hayes, Rob (December 15, 2020). "Crime victims' families lash out at LA County DA George Gascon over new policies". KABC. Retrieved December 16, 2020.
  51. ^ White, Jeremy B. "California prosecutors revolt against Los Angeles DA's social justice changes". POLITICO. Retrieved January 27, 2021.
  52. ^ Poston, Ben (February 27, 2021). "Victims rights advocates launch recall effort against newly elected L.A. Dist. Atty. George Gascón". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 18, 2021.
  53. ^ Phillips, Morgan (February 27, 2021). "LA District Attorney George Gascon faces new recall as Newsom effort nears threshold". Fox News. Retrieved March 18, 2021.
  54. ^ Suter, Leanne (March 1, 2021). "Recall effort launched against LA County DA George Gascón, with support from Sheriff Villanueva". ABC 7 Eyewitness News. Retrieved March 18, 2021.
  55. ^ "NCJRS Abstract - National Criminal Justice Reference Service". www.ncjrs.gov. Archived from the original on August 1, 2020. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  56. ^ "Southern California Leadership Network Celebrates 30th Anniversary by Recognizing 30 Outstanding Leaders During 2017 Visionaries Awards". lachamber.com. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  57. ^ BASF Bulletin Board: Our Members and Leaders Circle Firms Making Headlines Referenced October 9, 2019.
  58. ^ ADL Awards Luncheon Event Archived October 7, 2019, at the Wayback Machine Referenced October 9, 2019.

External linksEdit