Drug dealers and pimps beware.
Mission Police Station’s boss Capt. Greg Corrales said that priority number one in his return to the post he held from 2002-2004, is to aggressively combat drug dealing and prostitution.
“When drug arrests are up, all other crimes are down,” said Corrales. “The bottom line is we will make the Mission District safer for all residents and tourists,” declared Corrales in a tone more resembling a politician than a police officer.
On Nov. 16 Corrales returned to head the Mission Station, swapping places with Capt. Stephen Tacchini, who left to lead the traffic detail.
“I’m delighted to be back,” said the mustachioed Corrales, 61 who celebrated 40 years with the San Francisco Police Department this September.
The major difference he sees between his last stint as Mission boss and this one is Chief George Gascón’s planned reorganization of the department.
Gascón’s overhaul is the department’s first major realignment in decades. It includes the redeployment of approximately 100 of the department’s investigators to the district police stations—eight to the Mission Station.
Corrales believes this disbursement of investigators, a clear priority for Gascón in his first few months in office, will vastly improve each station’s ability to solve crimes in a way that has not been possible with all investigators centrally located at the Hall of Justice.
Corrales plans to put investigators to work in his war on drugs.
The emphasis on battling drugs began early in Corrales’ career.
A 21-year-old Marine freshly back from battle in Vietnam, Corrales, who was born in Hayward and grew up around the East Bay, joined the department in 1969. He was promptly placed in the narcotics unit where he served as an undercover officer for several years.
His beginning in narcotics enforcement was a “matter of circumstance,” according to Corrales.
“There weren’t many minorities in the department at the time,” said Corrales, former President of the San Francisco chapter of the Latino Peace Officers’ Association, from who he recently received a lifetime achievement award.
“Being of Mexican-American descent, no one who saw me in street clothes thought I was a cop, so I ended up doing a lot of undercover work,” said Corrales.
In the four decades since joining the department, he has accumulated substantial commendations, many for his work in narcotics enforcement.
He has received a cornucopia of awards from the city and was awarded certificates of appreciation from the FBI, DEA, California Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, and the California Narcotics Officers Association.
But his decorated career has also been accompanied by its share of scandal.
Earlier this year he was cleared of all disciplinary charges the department filed against him over the infamous Fajitagate case dating back to 2002. The charges stemmed from comments he made to the media about a case in which three off-duty policemen were accused of beating two men after demanding their steak fajitas.
The departmental charges claimed that Corrales, the commanding officer, jeopardized the investigation by defending the men to the media, while refusing to speak with internal investigators.
Corrales was judged to be “factually innocent” of any wrongdoing, and none of the officers were found guilty of any charge, however two consecutive police chiefs resigned in the wake of the incident.
“I was never worried about Fajitagate because I knew I did nothing wrong. The big toll it took was on my family,” said Corrales, who has four children with his wife Liane, an inspector for the Juvenile Division for the police department.
Fajitagate was far from Corrales’ only brush with scandal.
In 2006 the Chronicle reported that, according to court and department records, Corrales had been named in at least 80 citizen misconduct complaints and was a defendant in 18 lawsuits, estimated to have cost taxpayers more than $280,000.
However, only once was he officially punished by the department when, in 1982, the department suspended him for 10 days for firing his pistol in a shooting contest outside Zuka’s bar across from the Hall of Justice.
The outcome of complaints against Corrales is unknown because public access to records in police disciplinary proceedings are exempt from disclosure under the California Public Records Act.
Seemingly unfazed by the sideshows that accompanied his career, and with Fajitagate finally behind him, Corrales has a fresh start at Mission Station. He is elated about returning to the neighborhood he called home from 1973-1981.
Despite being one of the most senior members of the department at 61, Corrales hopes his return to the Mission Station will not be short-lived.
“Obviously with 40 years in the department, I could be out fishing somewhere,” said Corrales.
“When I was a rookie I would tell people that I’m never going to retire,” said Corrales. “I still feel that way. I’m going to be around for a while yet. I love my job.”
Despite the optimism, he was clear to make the caveat that all progress would go hand-in-hand with community involvement.
“We can’t do it by ourselves. We need community input and support,” said Corrales.