CITY LEADERS PUSH FOR PUBLIC SAFETY SOLUTIONS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, March 7, 2023
Contact: Mayor’s Office of Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org
CITY LEADERS PUSH FOR PUBLIC SAFETY SOLUTIONS
Mayor Breed joins elected officials, public safety leaders, and community leaders to call for support for approval for more police overtime funding to address immediate safety needs, as well as long-term needs and alternatives to policing
San Francisco, CA – Today in the Tenderloin neighborhood, Mayor London N. Breed joined City leaders to call for support for key public safety initiatives to help maintain police services, support retention and recruitment of police officers, increase prosecution of open-air drug dealing, and extend alternatives to policing through community ambassador programs.
Mayor Breed was joined by District Attorney Brooke Jenkins, Supervisors Catherine Stefani, Matt Dorsey and Joel Engardio, Police Chief Bill Scott, Lena Miller, Executive Director of Urban Alchemy, as well as community leaders from across San Francisco.
The four specific actions called on were:
- Fund Overtime Immediately to ensure officers can continue making arrests around drug dealing, break-ins, retail theft, violent crime, and to be able to respond to calls for service.
- Strengthen Retention and Recruitment strategies to prevent further loss of officers and build back up our ranks over the long-term.
- Increase Prosecution of Open-Air Drug Dealing by adding more prosecutors to the District Attorney’s Office dedicated to fentanyl dealers.
- Continue Ambassador Program in the Tenderloin and Downtown areas to ensure our streets are welcoming for residents, workers, and visitors.
“Public safety is the top issue I hear about every day from residents, workers, and small businesses,” said Mayor London N. Breed. “Right now, we have a lot of work to do to stabilize law enforcement in the long-run, while continuing to provide the basic services right now through both having police officers on our streets, but also alternative solutions working alongside them through our Ambassador programs. Neighborhoods across the City are asking for resources, and we will be aggressive to answer their call.”
Fund Overtime: Budget Supplemental
On Tuesday February 14, Mayor Breed introduced a $27 million budget supplemental to fund police overtime and public safety ambassadors through the end of the fiscal year. She was joined by co-sponsors Supervisors Catherine Stefani, Rafael Mandelman, Matt Dorsey, and Joel Engardio. The supplemental will ensure the police have the funding necessary to continue to meet current levels of service. This includes the ability to investigate and curtail drug dealing and illegal use of narcotics, reduce gun violence, homicides, and violent crimes.
Importantly, this supplemental prevents mandated service cuts and a hiring freeze. If this supplemental does not pass, the Controller will be required to freeze hiring and overtime spending through the end of the fiscal year in June, which will significantly reduce policing levels across the City.
The Overtime Supplemental has not yet been scheduled for a hearing at the Budget Committee of the Board of Supervisors. It needs eight votes to pass.
“We cannot afford to continue to put the safety of San Franciscans and visitors at risk,” said Supervisor Catherine Stefani. “With a 600-officer shortfall that continues to grow, adequate staffing will allow officers to respond to calls and engage in proactive policing–including our vital merchant corridors in District 2 and the Palace of Fine Arts. SFPD needs this emergency funding—now.”
“The future of San Francisco’s economy, and especially our downtown, depends on our ability to maintain safe, clean, accessible public spaces,” said Supervisor Rafael Mandelman. “Failing to fund police overtime, expand downtown ambassadors, and support the District Attorney’s work to end open air drug markets would undermine long term efforts to stabilize City revenue and services.”
“The Mayor’s proposed budget supplemental will help our police department deliver necessary services to protect public safety during a time when we need it the most. The City’s police understaffing crisis is at an all-time low and we need to ensure the safety of our residents by keeping officers on the streets and holding drug dealers accountable,” said Supervisor Matt Dorsey. “I’m proud to support the announcements made today and will continue to be advocate for public safety every day.”
“We’re short 500 officers for a city our size and our last academy only had 12 graduates. The station that serves the Sunset has lost half its officers in the past four years. Overtime funding is critical to maintain the little staffing we have,” said Supervisor Joel Engardio. “We also need people willing to be cops in San Francisco. We need to support our police officers. They’re a model of reform but treated like they can’t be trusted. They’re constantly under fire while being asked to do too much without the tools they need. They don’t feel valued and we need to change that narrative.”
Strengthen Retention and Recruitment: New Police Contract:
As part of the City’s work to address its severe police staffing shortage, Mayor London Breed is introducing legislation on Tuesday March 7th to adopt the ratified contract with the San Francisco Police Officers Association that is a significant step in retaining and recruiting police officers.
Sworn staffing levels have fallen precipitously in the last three years and San Francisco is now 331 officers lower than in 2019 and 541 officers below the staffing analysis recommended level; many are eligible for retirement.
The new Police Contract Agreement will help stop the outflow of experienced officers leaving San Francisco by including significant retention bonuses. It will also help recruit new officers by making San Francisco the highest paid starting salary in the Bay Area while also adding incentives for officers looking to transfer from other jurisdictions. The agreement also supports officers and their families by including childcare support in circumstances where officers get called in for mandatory overtime, called back to work, or held over schedule.
The legislation to adopt the contract must be approved by a majority of the Board of Supervisors.
“This budget supplemental will ensure that our police department has the funding necessary to maintain the services that we are providing for our City,” said San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott. “This includes combating open air drug sales and use, reducing violent crime, property crime, and getting guns off our streets. This is a crucial component of our short- and long-term strategies to make San Francisco a destination police department for those seeking a career in law enforcement and those continuing their careers in law enforcement.”
Increase Prosecution of Open-Air Drug Dealing: DA Supplemental:
On Tuesday February 14th, the Mayor introduced a companion piece of legislation to the Police Overtime Supplemental that provides nearly $200,000 supplemental funding for three additional prosecutors in the District Attorney’s Office who will focus on open air drug dealing. This will bolster the DA’s aggressive efforts by expediting additional resources.
Since District Attorney Jenkins appointment and election in 2022, the filing rate for narcotics sales cases in San Francisco went up to 90% from 75%. Additionally, the City saw an 84% increase in felony narcotics arraignments (July 2022- Feb 2023 vs same time period for previous administration).
- 525 felony narcotics sales cases filed compared to 290 for the same time period as the previous administration.
- 430 individuals were arraigned for felony narcotics compared to 234 for the same time period as the previous administration.
“Having additional prosecutors dedicated to prosecuting narcotics cases will ensure that we are able to increase our efforts to disrupt open-air drug dealing and hold drug dealers accountable,” said District Attorney Brooke Jenkins. “Communities across the city are demanding that we do more; this investment will meet their demand for immediate action in the courtroom.”
Continue Ambassador Program in the Tenderloin and Downtown: Contract Extension:
In January, Mayor Breed introduced a contract extension for two ambassador programs: Urban Alchemy that covers the Tenderloin and Mid-Market areas and the Welcome Ambassadors that cover Downtown and tourist areas. Both of these programs have created positive change in the areas they are located. Urban Alchemy has been an asset for the community, serves as an alternative to policing, and has helped bring stability to some of our most challenged streets.
The Welcome Ambassadors are an essential part of our Downtown and tourism recovery. They support visitors, workers, and residents, and help make conventions at Moscone Center a success. They’ve received incredible, consistent feedback about the positive impact they are having.
The legislation to approve the contract extension is scheduled to be heard at the Budget and Appropriations Committee of the Board of Supervisors on March 8th. If it does not move forward, both Urban Alchemy and the Welcome Ambassadors will have to initiate layoffs and remove ambassadors from the streets.
“Urban Alchemy’s work saves and transforms lives. Every day, our amazing Practitioners connect unhoused San Franciscans with shelter and services; they safely and compassionately de-escalate conflict; they make sure community businesses and public spaces are accessible to everyone; and they do all of that critical work armed only with their ability to communicate, connect, and convince citizens to be the best versions of themselves in critical moments” said Dr. Lena Miller, Founder and CEO of Urban Alchemy. “We must continue advancing these kinds of alternative solutions, and I’m grateful to Mayor Breed and our partners for their bold leadership and commitment to an innovative approach rooted in community empowerment and inclusion.”
“The San Francisco Chinese Chamber of Commerce presents the largest celebration of the Lunar New Year outside of Asia,” said Harlan Wong, Chinese New Year Festival and Parade Director, and First Vice President of Chinese Chamber of Commerce. “Due to the recent gun violence, the question on everyone’s mind was ‘What will be done to ensure a safe environment for our participants and attendees?’ Before a single firecracker was lit, I reached out to Captain Farmer from Central Station and he coordinated Police officers to work overtime and ensure a safe environment for the Parade. I urge the Board of Supervisors to approve the Mayor’s proposed budget to fund overtime pay to our Police Officers that will ultimately benefit our communities.”
“We need to keep our officers on our street,” said Larry Yee, Board Member of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association. “We are simply asking that the Police Department is able to maintain the level of fundamental service to keep us safe. As the nation’s most historic organization that serves and advocates on behalf of the Chinese community, we cannot express our gratitude enough to the foot-beat and patrol officers in our neighborhood. We see them every day and we don’t want to lose them even for a minute.”
“This City cannot afford any delay of police service because of cuts and hiring freeze,” said Betty Louie and Eva Lee, Chinatown Merchants Association. “Chinatown’s safety was hit the hardest in the last few years. We are still trying to recover our economy, and that involves working with our police officers and public safety partners. We needed that funding yesterday and we need it now. Please help support these hard-working officers.”