New Park Station Captain John Sanford Jr. Takes Over

New Park Station Captain John Sanford Jr. Takes Over

Capt. Sanford, at left. (Photo: SFPD/Facebook)

By Amy Stephenson - Published on April 06, 2015.

Two weeks ago, Hoodline reported that Captain Raj Vaswani would move to Bayview Station just shy of one year after starting at Park Station, and that former Taraval Station Captain John Sanford Jr. would take over.

The news was met with some frustration from the Haight Ashbury Merchants Association and commenters alike, with The Booksmith's Christin Evans writing, "I can't express how frustrating its been as a merchant on Haight street and a resident of the neighborhood to have this revolving door."

This week, Capt. Sanford took over, hitting the ground running by emailing residents, meeting merchants, and working at least one 16+ hour day in the district which covers Cole Valley, Haight Street, the Western Addition, Twin Peaks, and the Duboce and Divisadero areas. (Here's a district map.)

According to the April 2nd Park Station newsletter, Capt. Sanford's first day (Monday, March 30th) was a 16.5 hour affair, as the Park Station team worked with a hostage team, a SWAT team, SFFD, and more to coax a man, who was threatening to harm himself, out of a Lyon Street apartment. (More on that story here.)

Then, on Tuesday the 31st, Capt. Sanford sent out an email in which he addressed the revolving door frustration.

"I am equally elated to serve the Park district community and the various Board of Supervisor members that represent this fine district. I am fully aware that many members of the community are frustrated with the transition of yet another commanding officer here at Park Station. I truly understand the frustration, but promise you I bring full dedication and commitment to the post. [...] I will encourage and embrace collaboration and partnership with the community. My goal is to foster a sustainable process with continuity, which will assist us with reducing crime and improving the quality of life for those who dwell within our borders."

Last Wednesday, April 1st, Capt. Sanford set out with Supervisor Breed and Capt. Vaswani to meet the Haight's merchants one by one, much like Captain Vaswani did shortly after taking over. The stops were brief, but the group was thorough, and they even met the six sweepers in the Taking It To The Streets program. 

With 4/20, Haight Street's annual unsanctioned marijuana-themed bacchanal, right around the corner, Capt. Sanford will have his work cut out for him. As of this writing, Park Station is in the planning phase for 4/20 with various other city agencies (MTA, DPT, DPW) to ensure that the neighborhood is minimally disrupted, but no solid plan has come into focus. More beat officers, more trash bins, more public transit, and more toilets have all been suggested in the past.

For the last two years, 4/20 has fallen on a weekend, and this year, it will be on a Monday, which may play into how raucous the event will, or won't, prove to be. Supervisor Breed's aide Conor Johnston said that the city is "optimistic Monday will be calmer than last year’s Easter Sunday," but just in case, here's hoping Capt. Sanford will settle in for the full Haight experience later this month.