MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY HOLIDAY’S SAN PEDRO; LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT’S PAT GANNON RETURNS TO THE HARBOR REGION WITH A PROMOTION AS DEPUTY CHIEF FOR LAPD’S ENTIRE SOUTHERN REGION;
HE LIKES HIS OFFICERS TO CONNECT WITH KIDS AND THE COMMUNITY: HIS NUMBER ONE PRIORITY TO STABALIZE GANG CRIME IN THE REGION
By Diana L. Chapman
Los Angeles police veteran Pat Gannon -- whose family has served the LAPD for combined eight decades plus of service, returned to the Harbor Area this month to take over the reins of the department’s entire southern region.
He will manage 1,500 officers.
Now promoted to deputy chief, Gannon, 54, a San Pedro native whose police career has spanned 31 years, has been noted for his close work with the communities he’s served in part by listening to residents, including the Spanish speaking community, and connecting officers with children.
Gang crime will be one of his top priorities.
Before his departure from the commander post where he last oversaw the city’s homicide investigations, Gannon could proudly tout a drop in murder rate during his tenure. His deep roots to San Pedro, where he was born, however, delighted him with his new promotion. Four generations of Gannons have served the LAPD.
“To be a Deputy Chief and the Commanding Officer of Operations South Bureau is an incredible opportunity for me personally,” Gannon said. “ However, it is a huge responsibility. The area I am responsible for has over 800,000 residents and nearly 1500 sworn police officers working in the area.”
His promotion was lauded by many officials and residents – as he served as captain for the Harbor Region for two years and has a deep understanding of the region. He graduated from San Pedro High in 1973 and later became an LAPD officer. He took the captain’s role in 2000, became a commander in 2006 and climbed to Deputy Chief in 2009.
As soon as Gannon returned to the Harbor Area, he faced residents at a heated public meeting. Residents were riled over the senseless San Pedro shooting death of a 17-year-old boy on a Sunday morning. Geisslar (Michael) Alfaro was killed at Cabrillo Avenue and 18th Street Nov. 22 while walking to the store. Two brothers were arrested, but one was later released.
In particular, San Pedro residents were angered that 44 officers were removed from the Harbor Area and wanted to know if they were receiving their “fair share” of officers from the city.
To ease community concerns, Gannon reported that newly appointed Los Police Chief Charles Beck “has committed to returning officers to the field. An assessment is currently being made to determine where the vacancies are and where officers can be reassigned from,” Gannon explained. “Once that is determined then he will push those officers back to individual police stations like Harbor. I am not sure how many that will be.”
About 130 officers will be returned to patrol assignments, Gannon explained, but the numbers to return to the Harbor Area has not yet been decided.
Gannon has placed gang crime as one of his top priorities and plans, as he has done in the past, to use the help of the community and its local resources to scale down crime.
“I am fortunate that so many great people live in the Harbor Area and South Los Angeles and I believe that when we work together we can make a difference,” Gannon said.
As a prevention to keep kids from crime and gangs, he often had his officers bond with the area youth by playing basketball and other sports with children. He believes officers should connect with youth beyond the doors of the police department.
Reduction of crime, he said, remains high on his priority list.
“ First and foremost is the continued reduction of crime and the fear of crime. Harbor Division has done a very good job this year and … crime has been reduced by 10.5%. This is a tremendous accomplishment. However, there is still too much gang violence in San Pedro. If we can make an impact in this area we would go a long way in reducing the fear of crime.”
In the 1990s – due partly to heavy crack cocaine use – the murder rate reached up to an average mark of about 1,100 in Los Angeles per year. Once New York Police Chief William Bratton took over the LAPD’s top post as chief, the homicide rate dropped to about 365 a year, Gannon said. (Beck recently replaced Bratton.)
When Gannon was named as commander of homicide investigations – using new measures created to reduce gang crime through the gang zrar’s latest measures– the rate again dropped farther to about 304 in 2009.
Serving as sworn Los Angeles officers seems to run in the blood for the Gannon clan.
Gannon followed in the footsteps of his grandfather -- a detective who joined in the force in 1927– and his father who became a sworn officer in 1947. Gannon joined in 1978 later followed by his son, Michael, 27 , who also became an officer in 2005.
“This makes 82 years of service by Gannons to the residents of Los Angeles and I am very proud of that accomplishment,” he said.