San Francisco Officials Fret Over Leak of Mesa Police Chief's Name as Possible Top-Cop Candidate

A candidate for the job of San Francisco police chief has dropped out of the competition following reports by the news media that Mesa's police chief applied for the job. The development has San Franciscio's Police Commission president fretting that more leaks could hamper the city's ability to find the best chief.

"There are people in the department or elsewhere who are really, really scared of bringing in an outside person," Theresa Sparks told the San Francisco Chronicle's City Insider blog. "They are doing everything they can to get us to narrow the pool of outside candidates. So far they've been successful. We've lost one."

Mesa officials confirmed rumors on Wednesday that Gascon, a former Los Angeles Police Department assistant chief, had applied to be San Francisco's top cop. The Insider article states that efforts to replace outgoing police chief Heather Fong are supposed to be secret.

Gascon quickly became one of the biggest names in Arizona law enforcement after taking the Mesa chief job almost three years ago.

New Times profiled Gascon last year as he sparred politically with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio over the issue of illegal immigrants. With COMP-STAT, a program he brought over from L.A., Gascon holds top commanders accountable in public forums and crunches crime statistics to give investigators a leg up on trends.

Crime in Mesa went down during his tenure, adding weight to the idea that his leadership has had positive results.

Gascon did not return calls to New Times about his California Dreamin'.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.