SFPD’s latest officers may be new, but bring experience

Ignatius Chinn worked the hardscrabble streets of Oakland for more than 20 years. He took on notorious organized-crime syndicates. He was promoted to detective, then supervisor. He served as an expert witness in gun-control cases.

Now, instead of looking back on his storied career, the 58-year-old lawman is starting over, taking a job on the night beat in San Francisco’s Bayview district.

Chinn is a “lateral transfer,” one of 10 recruits who left careers with other law-enforcement agencies to join the San Francisco Police Department.

Chinn has been in law enforcement since he joined the Oakland Police Department in 1970. Another recruit, William Ahern, is a Vietnam War veteran who investigated the Zodiac killings with the Department of Justice.

Not all the recruits are at the upper end of the age scale, however. The youngest of the group is 25 years old and has just two years of experience with the Pleasant Hill Police Department under his belt.

This is the second lateral transfer class to graduate since Mayor Gavin Newsom set a goal of hiring 700 new officers in five years.

The Police Department offers lateral transfers a salary of $72,956 to $97,656, based on an officer’s education and training — along with a $5,000 signing bonus, according to information on the department’s Web site.

Recruits can also retire with medical benefits and 30 percent of salary after 10 years in the department, according to SFPD spokesman Sgt. Neville Gittens.

Crispin Jones, who travelled 2,500 miles to become a San Francisco police officer, said the monetary benefits were an incentive, though the cash doesn’t go as far as in Athens, Ga., where he worked for nine years.

“The cost of living is a lot different,” he said.

Three other recruits previously served as officers with the University of California police in San Francisco.

Chinn said he is eager to begin his first assignment as a patrolman at Bayview Station.

“When you’re a detective, you’re more concerned with obtaining warrants,” Chinn said. “Patrol is a little more hands-on. You represent the city. It’s a change in pace.”

bbegin@examiner.com

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