By Janice Bressler
The Richmond Station of the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) has a new leader.
Captain Gaetano Caltagirone, an experienced SFPD veteran, took the helm of the Richmond Station on Saturday, Feb. 20. His appointment came nearly six months after the retirement of his predecessor, Captain Michelle Jean. He began his tenure with a call for Richmond residents to actively participate in watching out for each other to keep the neighborhood safer.
Caltagirone has served in the SFPD for 26 years and is the immediate past captain of the Mission Station, a post he had held since 2017.
The son of immigrants, he is the first generation of a Sicilian family to be born and raised in San Francisco. His previous roles include working as a patrol officer in the Bayview, Central, Park and Southern districts, and as a police sergeant at the Tenderloin Station. When he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant, he served with the Taraval Station Investigation Team. Later, at the Tenderloin Station, he was in charge of the Market Street foot beats.
“As a foot-beat officer, you are really engaging with the community in a one-on-one way,” Caltagirone said. “You get to really know a neighborhood and the individuals who live in it, and the businesses. Here in the Richmond District, we have foot-beat officers in the Laurel Village area, on Clement Street and on Geary Boulevard.”
SFPD’s Chief of Police Bill Scott said that Caltagirone’s appointment comes at an important moment for Richmond District residents and businesses.
“The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown has disproportionately shifted property crimes into residential areas, and we know the Richmond District is bearing the brunt of it right now,” Scott said.
Caltagirone supports neighborhood groups and communication between neighbors as an important strategy for increasing safety and deterring break-ins.
“One of the most important things people can do to deter crime is to get to know their neighbors,” he said.
Caltagirone also encourages residents to bolster the security of their homes and businesses.
“Consider motion detection lights, and leaving the porch light on,” he advised.
He is also a proponent of security cameras.
“We are often able to use the video footage from individuals’ security cameras to help us identify suspects and/or their vehicles,” Caltagirone said.
Caltagirone urged residents who want to improve the safety of their home or business to contact SF Safety Awareness for Everyone (SF SAFE), a nonprofit that works closely with the SFPD on public safety issues.
“SF SAFE is willing to come out to your home or business and do a complete evaluation of home safety – windows, doors, locks – and make recommendations on how best to secure your home or business,” he said.
Caltagirone invited Richmond residents to bring their input and problems to the community meetings that are held on the last Tuesday of every month at 5 p.m. A link for attending those virtual meetings, he explained, can be found on the SFPD website.
But he also invited the public to email him directly at any time with issues or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“A lot of people save their problems or issues for the community meeting,” Caltagirone said. “I’d prefer that people reach out to me by email as issues arise.”