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Crime-lab supervisors given lesser SFPD jobs

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Two high-ranking police officers who supervised the scandal-plagued San Francisco Police Department crime lab accepted demotions this week.

Police Chief George Gascón confirmed the demotions of Assistant Chief Kevin Cashman and Cmdr. John Loftus to captains, but would not comment on the reason behind the move other than to say Cashman and Loftus “voluntarily” accepted the new positions.

Cashman was on the receiving end of a November e-mail from Russ Giuntini — who was then the second-ranking employee of the District Attorney’s Office, but has since retired — that raised red flags about the crime lab. The e-mail said the understaffed drug-testing lab was impeding prosecutions, though it left out concerns about criminalist Deborah Madden, who admitted to police she took drugs from the lab.

In an e-mail response, Cashman wrote, “Thanks for the update. Have a Happy Thanksgiving. Will see you next week.”

Problems with the drug lab did not surface until four months later when Gascón learned about them. The chief, who had taken the job not long before the scandal broke, was left to sort out exactly who was responsible.

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Hundreds of drug cases have been dismissed since, and millions of dollars have been set aside to restructure the understaffed lab, which also tests DNA and bullets.

The Police Department has yet to release information about who will replace the two officers or where they will be reassigned. Another veteran officer, Assistant Chief Morris Tabak, is expected to retire in fall, leaving another high-paid vacancy.

“It is certainly the chief’s discretion to make the moves he deems necessary,” Police Officers Association Vice President Kevin Martin said. “I’m hesitant to say any more because we’re still trying to figure out where the pieces are going to fall.”

On Wednesday, Mayor Gavin Newsom said he supported Gascón’s management of the department.

“There will continue to be changes in this department … based on his experience and judgment and his observations on performance, so this is in line with that,” Newsom said.


Changing of the guard

Police Chief George Gascón announced that three members of the department command staff were being demoted or leaving.

Kevin Cashman
Previous position: Assistant police chief
New position: Captain

John Loftus
Previous position:
New position: Captain

Morris Tabak
Previous position: Assistant police chief
New position: Retired

Source: SFPD

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