The Police Department's top cop overseeing pedestrian safety and traffic enforcement has been reassigned to a new post at San Francisco International Airport.
The shuffling may signal the SFPD's further commitment to ending pedestrian deaths in The City, some insiders said, or may stem from a series of public relations missteps from the officer in question, Commander Mikail Ali.
With Ali's transfer to the airport, Commander Ann Mannix will take the spot as head of the SFPD's enforcement duty working with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.
“I'm very excited to be here and work with all of the advocacy groups towards Vision Zero,” Mannix told The Examiner. Vision Zero is The City's stated policy goal to reduce pedestrian deaths to zero, and some observers say is also the possible source of Ali's transfer.
The commander got hot feet in the press when he made statements advocates said appeared to blame pedestrians for their own deaths. Police Chief Greg Suhr denied the comments were behind his transfer to SFO, which is often derided as a boring, dead-end assignment.
Some insiders call the airport duty “Siberia.”
SFPD spokesperson Officer Albie Esparza said the opposite was true, and that SFO is a plum assignment. But though pedestrian fatalities went down from 21 to 17 from 2013 to 2014, seemingly good numbers for Ali, traffic citations across The City are not meeting the SFPD's stated goals.
“The worst (performing) stations are also the ones where we have the most pedestrian and traffic fatalities,” Nicole Schneider, head of advocacy group Walk SF, said.
As of Jan. 5, only SFPD's Richmond station met the department's stated citation goals. But Ali's comments regarding pedestrian fatalities, instead of on making the environment safer for all, were not helping, Schneider said.
“We have to make sure we're not giving excuses,” she said.
Though many stations were underperforming, the three stations with the highest improvements in number of pedestrian safety citations were the Tenderloin, Richmond and Northern.
Mannix previously served as captain of Northern station.