Ex-U.S. attorney hired by S.F. mayor

As homicides and violent crime plague The City, Mayor Gavin Newsom has hired a law enforcement heavy-hitter, former U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan, to lead the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice.

Ryan, the former chief federal prosecutor who was fired last year along with seven other U.S. attorneys, arrives on the job Monday as The City closed 2007 with a record-breaking tally of 98 homicides.

As the mayor’s point person on crime, Ryan will work with the Police Department, the District Attorney’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office and courts to establish strategies and polices to battle the crime crisis.

With a long résumé that includes a number of high-profile Bay Area jobs, including San Francisco Superior Court judge and Alameda County prosecutor, Ryan gained a reputation among the local law enforcement community by cracking down on homicides, criminal street gangs, gun crimes and human trafficking. A Republican, the 50-year-old Ryan said he will bring an “increased profile and authority to the office.”

He noted that The City needs to concentrate on community policy, and he plans to review best practices throughout the nation to combat crime.

“Kevin Ryan will excel at collaborating with our partners in the criminal justice system — police, prosecutors, public defenders and judges — because he has worked closely with them for years,” Newsom said.

When forced out of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 2007, Ryan came under fire for his management skills. According to an interoffice memo sent by former prosecutor John Hemann, lawyers and staff were “unhappy and frustrated” during his tenure.

Ryan has yet to publicly address the firing, but supporter Supervisor Bevan Dufty said the politics under the Bush administration were cause of the difficulties.

“You just can’t go to a corner of this city and not find someone who’s involved in public safety who doesn’t have something nice to say about Kevin,” Dufty said.

The father of two joined the law firm of Allen Matkins Leck Gamble Mallory & Natsis LLP last year, enjoying a hefty salary that civil service will not allow. In joining the Mayor’s Office, he is expected to make about $150,000, a significant pay cut. But he said the money doesn’t matter.

“I’m at a stage in my career where I can do this,” he said. “If I am overqualified for this position then so be it. It means I bring the expertise The City needs.”

He replaces interim Director Mikail Ali, a police sergeant who was recently promoted to lieutenant and will continue to work with the office of criminal justice.

bbegin@exmianer.com  

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