Assigned from the Airport Bureau to one of San Francisco’s busiest police districts, new Mission Station Police Captain William Griffin said he anticipates a change of pace and comes equipped with a “customer service” centered lens that he hopes will shape the station to better and more efficiently serve the local community.
“I think it’s always good to bring new ideas and different perspectives to the things you are doing,” said Griffin, who has been on the force for 36 years.
Griffin is one of three new San Francisco police station captains named by Police Chief William Scott earlier this year, replacing former Mission Station Captain Daniel Perea, who was promoted to commander of the district.
Though he is still familiarizing himself with the district’s immediate needs, Griffin said that he is stepping into a police station that is “adequately staffed to function.” In the coming months, his intention is to “optimize that functioning” by deploying officers to where they are needed most.
Last year, Griffin was promoted to captain of the Traffic Division at the San Francisco Police Department’s Airport Bureau and said he oversaw some 170 officers and police service aides with a focus on “safety and security” but also on customer service and “exceptionalism.”
“It might not sound that glamorous,” said Griffin, adding that the airport, where he had been assigned for over two years, “is very complex.”
“That’s a different aspect of law enforcement, the delivery of services in that type of environment. You’re dealing with people who are travelling and want to be safe,” he said.
At Mission Station, Griffin said there is some “room for improvement” in terms of serving the public, and he plans to implement some valuable lessons learned in terms of “optimization and efficiency” in his time there. But he offered few specifics.
Still, Griffin admitted that his new position will come with a different set of challenges.
“The [airport] is a confined environment so the variables are different than working in a big district station,” he said. At Mission Station, Griffin said he will fall back on his more than two decades of experience rotating between San Francisco’s various police districts.
After graduating from the Police Academy in 1981, Griffin’s first assignment was at Mission station, followed by a 15-year assignment at Southern Station, where he worked the district spanning South of Market, the China Basin and the Embarcadero as an officer.
Griffin spent the next decade split between Northern Station, where he was promoted to Lieutenant, and Park Station. He also has a two-year stint at Ingleside Station under his belt and a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice Management.
A native of San Francisco’s Richmond District, Griffin attended George Washington High School and turned to a career in law enforcement with the guidance of his father, a juvenile probation officer.
On March 10, the father of three officially took command of Mission station where his career started nearly four decades ago, and has since been busy getting acquainted with what he called the district’s most pressing issues: homelessness, prostitution and gang-related violence.
“The homeless [in] encampments is an issue that I’m seeing throughout the district and throughout the city,” said Griffin. “It’s not just quality of life [issues] for the residents who live here but also for the people you see living in tents and on the streets.”
Citing a stabbing in a homeless encampment near 14th and Mission streets last week, Griffin said that “there is crime and drug use that goes on within that culture and community” that he plans to focus police efforts on.
Addressing violence and drug use in and around encampments, he said, will be a priority of his officers, but Griffin said solving the problem requires a more “global” approach and the alliance of various city agencies.
Griffin said that he is not interested in pushing the “problem from one block to another.” Rather, he plans to continue the efforts of his predecessor by meeting regularly with the Mission’s Supervisor, Hillary Ronen and city leaders to tackle homelessness in the district.
“The strategy is to align the city services and agencies around [homelessness] and I think we are headed down that path where we have a holistic approach to dealing with the problem throughout the city and across district boundaries,” he said. “I’m optimistic that we are headed down the right road.”
Other issues on his radar are neighbor’s complaints about prostitution along parts of Capp and Shotwell streets –Griffin said he’s already received a number of emails from residents of that area and is getting “the context of the problem and developing a strategy” to address it which he will roll out in the “next couple of weeks.”
“I can’t wave a magic wand but I hear them,” he said, adding that Mission residents will have a chance to address him directly at the community police meeting held at Mission Station on the last Tuesday of every month – a service started by Perea that Griffin will continue, for now.
Just over a week after his arrival at Mission Station, two suspects allegedly involved in the fatal shooting of a 44-year-old man on 19th Street were apprehended by Mission Station officers. Griffin said recent acts of violence with “gang overtones” is another issue that’s “emerging in the Mission. “
Given the political climate, improving relations between the Mission’s diverse communities and the police and creating an environment that fosters trust and encourages communication is af key component in solving violent crime, said Griffin.
‘I’m pleased with the hard work the officers did with the community that…led to an arrest in a fairly short period of time,” he said, calling the effort a “good example of community operations.”