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Rec and Park hires new manager to oversee embattled police force

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Safe spaces: Park patrol officers oversee safety at the Recreation and Park Department’s facilities, including Golden Gate Park. - S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • S.F. Examiner File Photo
  • Safe spaces: Park patrol officers oversee safety at the Recreation and Park Department’s facilities, including Golden Gate Park.

The Recreation and Park Department is poised to hire a new manager to oversee its beleaguered park patrol unit.

Robert Lotti, a veteran law enforcement officer who is the current chief of the Colma Police Department, will be formally introduced Aug. 14 as the new head of Rec and Park’s 25-member patrol unit.

The unit oversees law enforcement for the department’s various parks, centers, open spaces and other facilities. It has been stung by accusations of cronyism among senior staff members. Mike Horan, a retired park patrol officer, is awaiting word on a $250,000 settlement from The City after he sued the department for lack of overtime shift opportunities.

In his lawsuit, later backed up by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Horan alleged that park patrol Manager Marcus Santiago frequently dished out prime overtime assignments to his friends on the force, often ignoring those who fell out of his favor. Most of the accusations date back to 2006.

Since joining Rec and Park in 2009, General Manager Phil Ginsburg has embarked on a series of reforms to the department, including commissioning an outside law enforcement consultant to review the park patrol operations. One of the recommendations from the consultant was to hire an outside manager to oversee the unit, Rec and Park spokeswoman Connie Chan said. Ginsburg also removed Santiago’s ability to assign overtime shifts, although Santiago continues to work for the department.

Lotti has been with the Colma Police Department since 2002, starting off as a commander before becoming chief of the force. Before that, he worked at the Belmont Police Department.

Ed Wood, the chief of the Burlingame Police Department, has known Lotti for the past 25 years.

“He’s an excellent manager,” Wood said. “He knows how to work with people to bring out their best and he’s a good coach and a good mentor. Plus, he knows how to hold people accountable and give them an opportunity to succeed.”

The base salary for Lotti’s position ranges from $85,332 to $108,888 annually, according to The City. Although Rec and Park will formally hire Lotti on Aug. 14, he is not expected to start until after the Labor Day weekend, Chan said. When he does begin, Lotti will be in charge of assigning overtime shifts for the park patrol officers, Chan said. Park patrol officers do not carry firearms.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com