Meet Joseph McFadden, the SFPD’s New Top Cop at Ingleside

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Neighbor Sarah, Bernal’s valiant liaison to the San Francisco Police Department, was unable to attend this month’s community meeting at Ingleside Station. In her stead, your Bernalwood editor attended the meeting to take notes as a (vastly inferior) substitute.

But that wasn’t the big news. The big news was the debut appearance by Capt. Joseph McFadden, the brand-new captain at Ingleside. Capt. McFadden used the meeting to introduce himself to a packed room of curious community folk, and my notes that follow summarize his presentation.

SFPD Ingleside Community Meeting
19 Aug, 2014

SFPD Captain Joe McFadden presiding (for the first time)
Captain’s email: joseph.mcfadden@sfgov.org

Mc Fadden is the new captain at Ingleside; he started in early August.

BACKGROUND:
McFadden grew up on 24th Street in the Mission. Third generation San Franciscan. His father was a doctor in Noe Valley, and he’s one of 10 children. He still lives in San Francisco, “about 8 minutes from this station.”  Hobbies: Football, boxing, hiking.

McFadden requested Ingleside because of proximity to his home, his familiarity with the area, and good diversity of people — It’s the “most diverse in the city by far,” he said. “It’s a great melting pot of San Francisco. Being here feels like being back home. I want to stay here for a while.”

SFPD CAREER HISTORY:
(McFadden blasted through this, so I may have missed or munged a few details.)

Started in 1989, trained at Northern Station, then Taraval for his probationary period. Then served at Ingleside from 1991 to 1994, working undercover at Alemany street projects and Sunnydale. Then Violent Crime Suppression Unit. Then went to Mission, and SWAT Team  Became a sergeant, and went to Tenderloin undercover unit. Then domestic violence crime unit for 9 years. Then Internal Affairs for 4 years, including duty as the officer involved shooting coordinator. Then headed up the Film Coordination Unit (which manages street logistics for film crews). Made Lieutenant, then went to Bayview to lead their Station Investigation Unit under Greg Suhr At Bayview, Suhr emphasized community outreach. Then did Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) and some Homeland Security. Became a Captain, and lead the Major Crimes Unit. Then went to Special Victims Unit.

POLICING PHILOSOPHY
Most of McFadden’s career has been focused on investigations. He is very investigations-focused. Says he also brought one of the City’s best investigators to Ingleside as his lieutenant.

McFadden says he is “adamant” about working with the community. He’s a big fan of Project SAFE.

Recidivism rate shows that about 5 percent of people commit 80 percent of the crimes. Main focus will be bringing down violent crime and robberies. Actively tracks violent crime arrests, to keep tabs on who will be coming out of jail in a year or two, to familiarize officers with the individual’s MO.

There are lots of young officers in the SFPD now, following a big wave of retirements. Several rookies in Ingleside. McFadden  always reminds officers that they are all on video now — tells them to live their lives like they are always on video. Wants them to always follow through on investigations — especially if they wrote the reports. Very focused on report-writing as a way to encourage ownership of an incident. Ingleside will be a learning station for many of the new officers.

Says that one of the ways he will measure his own success will the length of the list of officers requesting duty at Ingleside.

INGLESIDE CRIME TRENDS
Current high priority is Visitacion Valley robberies. Reaching out to Asian-Pacific Islander associations to educate and train up the neighbors in the area. Establishing Safe Haven programs with local merchants to enable people to find shelter when they feel threatened.

Keeping an eye on auto burglaries, with plans to conduct decoy operaitons, etc. “One thing about criminals, they work an area until they get caught,” he said. “If you arrest one or two people, it will often take down a large percentage of people who are committing the crimes.”  Wants to help establish bloc-by-block neighborhood watches (via Project SAFE), esp via neighborhood organizations.

Keenly interested in Ingleside’s gambling houses. Aware of them, and wants to close them, but it’s hard to do. Coordinating with DA’s office on this. For example, 4837 Mission Street, the gambling hall in the City Business Center. Several gambling halls have closed recently, such as NetStop and Cybertimes. But City Business Center has not closed. Court cases are in progress, but the law is in flux at the moment. This is a citywide issue, but very prevalent in Ingleside. A new hotshot DA is also on the case. This is very high on the priority list.

Other concerns: crime hosues, drug houses, grow houses.

Regarding car break-ins: This is often the very same people, over and over again. Police try to get the guys who are saturating an area. Again, there’s an active effort to review parolees who are returning to the neighborhood, since criminals tend to continue in the same area of crime. If you have surveillance videos that show a crime, make copies and send to SFPD, so officers can familiarize themselves with the suspects. Familiarity with criminals on the street is very powerful, and videos do a lot to help with that.

Now that school is back in session, paying attention to traffic and safe schools, and assigning units to problem areas.

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT
Wants to hear about officers who are rude, as well as officers who are especially good. Knowing when officers do a good job is just as important as knowing when they don’t. Giving recognition for exceptional behavior is a very powerful incentive. It really matters when good behavior gets recognized in a daily station line up — goes a long way toward encouraging more of the same.

If you see a cop on the street, introduce yourself — “Tell them Capt. McFadden told you to do it.” (McFadden said this several times during the meeting) You will see that officer again; policing works best when two-way relationships exist.

At CSI, McFadden learned that one of the biggest trends in contemporary investigation is the importance of the phones people now carry with them: Pictures, video etc., “Video is gigantic.” The video camera’s in ATMs and so on are incredibly important tools to determine where a suspect was, and where they went, etc. Even a bad video can be very useful.

IF YOU SEE SOMETHING…
Evidence from the community has become increasingly important , and it’s important to know how to be a good witness. Wants to train-up the community to be proactive. If you see something, write it down immediately. Note clothing, facial hair, scars, license plates, etc. Specifics, as much as possible Unique features. Note the shoes — criminals can shed a shirt or a jacket, but they can’t change their shoes. Document everything, with as many details as you can get.

When in doubt call 911 — “I’d rather get the call than not get the call.” No response from police? Follow up again. There’s power in numbers. Call your neighbors; have them call 911 too.

QUESTIONS FROM THE COMMUNITY

QUESTION: What are your strategies for strengthening relationships between youth and police ?
MCFADDEN: A big emphasis on approachability. McFadden encourages all officers to carry “junior officer stickers” for kids at all times. Hates to hear when officers are rude. Wants officers to be polite. Special focus on kids in Middle School; very important to reach out to teens. Encourages police participation in BBQs, community activities, etc.

QUESTION What If you find a item that was used in a crime?
MCFADDEN: Don’t touch the stuff. Photograph where you found it, in place. Get a wide angle and tight shot (to capture the whole scene, and the specific location.) Wear gloves if you have to touch it, to avoid contamination of evidence. Put it in a bag.

QUESTION: If you could get one thing done at Ingleside, what would it be?
MCFADDEN: I’ve always been better as a strategist than an analyst, but that’s changed a bit as I’ve gotten older. For my station people, I want everyone to return here. For the community, I want everyone to trust in the officers here, and to have lots of people to know me like I’m the mayor of this place. I’m a firm believer in foot-beat officers, and encouraging officers to be outgoing. Wants his people to get to know the community, and the community to know the officers. Wants cops to bond with the community.

PHOTOS: Capt. Joseph McFadden, by Telstar Logistics

13 thoughts on “Meet Joseph McFadden, the SFPD’s New Top Cop at Ingleside

  1. I grew up in Noe Valley -24th and Church -in an Irish Catholic family -still have so many fond memories. Good luck to the Captain in all his endeavors!

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  3. Sounds great! Isn’t this what we all want? A homegrown captain who wants real interaction with the community? Best of luck Captain McFadden!

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