District Attorney George Gascón's Statement on Sheriff Mirkarimi’s Re-Instatement

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

CONTACT: Stephanie Ong Stillman, DA Gascón’s Office, (415) 553-1167 or (415) 740-5134
ADA Alex Bastian, DA Gascón’s Office, (415) 553-1931

I believe I echo the sentiment of many San Franciscans when I say I have grave concerns about Ross Mirkarimi’s ability to manage the Sheriff’s Department. While Ross was entitled to the process that unfolded and it has been resolved with his reinstatement, there are serious public safety concerns that remain unresolved.

I appreciate the work of the Ethics Commission, the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors. The Mayor sought suspension which the Ethics Commission recommended and the Board of Supervisors rejected. Ross is now reinstated as our Sheriff and I accept that. What I will not accept is any compromise of public safety as a result of his reinstatement.

Ross Mirkarimi is on probation in this county for a crime of domestic violence. He is, at a minimum, incapable of adequately performing the functions of his office that relate to crimes of domestic violence. I am calling upon Ross to recuse himself from the duties in his office that relate to the custody, supervision, safety and rehabilitation of domestic violence offenders.

During the remainder of his probation he needs to wall himself off from this conflict by appointing a high level administrator within his department to oversee all domestic violence related work. This independent authority should be pulled out from under the Sheriff’s supervision and be allowed to make all decisions related to domestic violence matters including:

• The Domestic Violence Batterer’s Program that the Sheriff’s Department oversees, both in custody and out of custody programs.
• Supervision of inmates for domestic violence related crimes
• Direct disciplinary decision making on Sheriff’s personnel charged for domestic violence crimes and any administrative discipline related to domestic violence incidents.
• Bailiffs in Domestic Violence Court including Dept 50 and Domestic Violence cases sent to other departments
• Sheriff’s classification services on all incoming domestic violence suspects booked into custody
• Investigation by Sheriff’s Department Detectives in pending or future domestic violence related matters by current inmates including monitoring of jail calls
• Process for serving civil restraining orders related to domestic violence proceedings in Family Court.

This request is specific, limited and operational. It is crafted to address the core public safety concern arising from the Sheriff’s criminal conduct. As leaders in public safety, we have a moral obligation to protect all victims of crime. These roles demand that we think beyond ourselves and prioritize the most vulnerable members of our community. These roles should not be self serving, but rather, a noble undertaking to give voice to the voiceless. I implore Ross to embrace this obligation and rectify what he has broken.

I will not allow the clock to be rolled back on thirty years of progress in protecting victims of domestic violence. No victim of crime should fear that their call for help will go unanswered. No victim should have to consider whether their claim will be taken seriously because they are reporting it to an individual who has committed the same crime.

As the chief law enforcement official in this City and County, I will stand unapologetically with the victims. I will work tirelessly to be sure both victims and witnesses know this city does not tolerate domestic violence. I will work to ensure that all of our public safety leaders and agencies afford these victims and every victim a safe refuge where they will be heard and protected.

Our mission in public safety must be to protect and reassure the victims of crime over and above the individual desires of one elected official with a criminal record. San Francisco is better than this moment.

The Sheriff has another opportunity to act with grace and true compassion by recusing himself from the supervision of domestic violence activities in his department. He can begin to heal the divide in this city and reassure victims that he can be the kind of Sheriff they deserve. I hope he will take this opportunity and begin to rebuild trust with all of us.