District Attorney George Gascón
Former District Attorney for the City & County of San Francisco, and former Assistant Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, George Gascon is running for District Attorney to modernize LA’s criminal justice system.
In 1967, Gascón, then 13, carried a cardboard suitcase with his mom, Maria, and dad, Marcos, and boarded a “freedom flight” from Havana, Cuba to Miami. They had nothing more than the clothes on their backs and a change of underwear in their cardboard suitcase. Within a week he and his family moved to Southeast Los Angeles and settled in Cudahy. He had difficulty learning English and keeping up with schoolwork, and Gascón ultimately dropped out of high school and started bagging groceries.
Once he turned 18, Gascón joined the army and quickly became the youngest sergeant in his brigade. He would earn his high school degree while simultaneously taking college extension courses, and after earning a four-year degree in history from Cal State Long Beach, Gascón got a job as a patrol officer in the Hollywood division of the Los Angeles Police Department.
He worked his way up the ranks of the LAPD from patrol officer to Assistant Chief of Police under Bill Bratton. As Assistant Chief he oversaw operations for the more than 9,000 officers in the LAPD. Then in 2006 he was tapped to be Chief of the Mesa Police Department, where he famously squared off against Sheriff Joe Arpaio and anti-immigrant groups. In 2009, then-Mayor Gavin Newsom appointed Gascón to be San Francisco’s Chief of Police. In 2011, when then-District Attorney Kamala Harris vacated her seat after being elected California Attorney General, Newsom tapped Gascón once again to be San Francisco District Attorney.
Gascón was the first Latino to hold the office in San Francisco, and the nation’s first police chief to become District Attorney. In the many positions Gascón has held throughout his career—from Assistant Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, to Chief of Police in Mesa, Arizona, Chief of Police in San Francisco, and, most recently, District Attorney for the City and County of San Francisco—his commitment to fairness, service, and public safety has remained steadfast.
Since his appointment in January 2011 as San Francisco’s District Attorney, Gascón has earned a national reputation as a visionary in criminal justice reform. He has been named among the Top 100 Lawyers in California by the Daily Journal, and the Anti-Defamation League honored him with its prestigious Civil Rights Award. The Southern California Leadership Network distinguished him with its Visionary Award, and Win With Justice, WNBA All-Star Maya Moore’s social action campaign, presented him with its Impact Award.
Today, Gascón, and his work, are defined by the same notions of fairness, public safety, service, and critical thought that have been consistent throughout his life. In addition to his criminal justice work at the local, state, and national level, Gascón has worked on public safety initiatives in Latin America and the Middle East. He is a board member of the Council of State Government’s Justice Center, a graduate of the FBI’s National Executive Institute, and a member of the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government’s Executive Session on Policing and Public Safety.
District Attorney Gascón holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from California State University, Long Beach, and a Juris Doctor Degree from Western State University, College of Law.
As San Francisco’s Chief of Police, he significantly increased the murder clearance rate and homicides in San Francisco fell by half, from 98 cases in 2008 to 45 the next year. Violent crime continued to drop to near-record lows over the next nine years that he spent as San Francisco’s District Attorney.