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SFPD Chief George Gascon Sworn In As District Attorney

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) -- In his final act as mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom swore in police Chief George Gascon as the new district attorney in a special ceremony held on the mayor's balcony inside City Hall Sunday.

Newsom, who will take his place as lieutenant governor Monday, admitted that the appointment came "extraordinarily quick" during his search for a candidate to replace Kamala Harris, who is now attorney general of California.

As he carefully narrowed down the candidates to about six people, Newsom sought counsel from Gascon on Saturday.

But as Newsom listened to Gascon give his recommendations for the district attorney seat, the outgoing mayor realized his search was over.

"It became clear to me that he was the choice," Newsom said.

Gascon, who didn't previously know he was being considered, had to make up his mind quickly when Newsom made the offer.

Just before 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Gascon was sworn in as district attorney.

"You have offered me two incredible opportunities," Gascon said to Newsom of his position as police chief and now as district attorney.

Gascon said he could offer a worthwhile perspective to the district attorney role.

"At the end of the day, it's about delivering public safety to the community," Gascon said. "I'm taken aback by this awesome honor given to me."

The new district attorney is already receiving support from city officials.

"Police Chief George Gascon is a stellar choice for district attorney of San Francisco," City Attorney Dennis Herrera said in a statement. "I know Mayor Newsom had a very tough decision to make among a number of excellent potential successors, and he has made an experienced, top-notch pick."

KCBS' Tim Ryan Reports:

Gascon, the first Latino district attorney in San Francisco's history, was appointed as police chief by Newsom in 2009, according to the mayor's office.

Gascon holds a juris doctorate degree from Western State University College of Law and is an active member of the California Bar Association.

During Gascon's time as San Francisco police chief, violent crime dropped to lows not seen since the 1960s, according to the mayor's office.

Prior to joining San Francisco Police Department, Gascon served as a member of the Los Angeles Police Department from 1978 to 1981. He left the LAPD to pursue a career in business management, while volunteering as a reserve officer, and returned to the department full time in 1987.

Gascon worked his way up to assistant police chief and director of the Office of Operations in charge of patrol, detectives, aviation, special operations and jails. He also served as the chief of the Mesa Police Department in Arizona.

San Francisco police Assistant Chief Jeff Godown will serve as acting police chief until a permanent chief is selected by the Police Commission and the interim mayor.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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