DA, mayor seek law to ensure no sheriff conflict
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The district attorney and the mayor said Monday they are seeking legislation to prohibit the reinstated San Francisco sheriff from overseeing any domestic violence programs in his department while he's on probation in such a case.
District Attorney George Gascon and Mayor Ed Lee said they were not satisfied with Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi's response to Gascon's request to recuse himself from duties in his office related to domestic violence offenders.
Mirkarimi told The Associated Press last week that he feels he has no conflicts of interest, even though he is on three years of probation for a misdemeanor conviction stemming from a New Year's Eve argument with his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez.
Gascon said the proposed ordinance would prevent officials charged with felonies from handling cases involving the same crimes for 10 years. Those with misdemeanors could not handle similar cases for five years.
"It is obvious to me that we cannot trust the sheriff to do the right things, so we're going to have to make sure that the right things are taken care of," Gascon said after announcing the city has received a $650,000 federal grant to help high-risk domestic violence victims.
Mirkarimi previously said domestic violence programs are led by a command chain of highly experienced members of his department.
"We do not anticipate any conflict of interest that implicates me or any member of our department in conjunction with program direction or outcome," Mirkarimi wrote in an Oct. 22 letter to Gascon. "In the event a potential conflict arises, steps will be taken to ensure that program integrity remains uncompromised."
The sheriff's department did not immediately respond to requests seeking comment Monday.
Mirkarimi said last week that he is humbled and ashamed of the domestic violence case that resulted in his criminal conviction and nearly forced him out of office.
He acknowledged the nearly 10-month fight for his job created deep divisions in the city, but added he is optimistic he can work with the district attorney who prosecuted him and the mayor who tried to oust him.
Mirkarimi called his reinstatement more "bittersweet" than "vindication."
"I'm truly grateful and thankful, and I forever will be that humbled servant that has this opportunity to show why I was elected sheriff in the first place," Mirkarimi said.
Lee suspended Mirkarimi in March after the sheriff pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor false imprisonment charge related to his domestic dispute. Lee then tried permanently removing Mirkarimi by filing official misconduct charges.
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