San Francisco, CA – Today Mayor London N. Breed’s legislation to address key public safety needs was approved by the Board of Supervisors.
First, $25 million in funding for police overtime will ensure officers can continue to provide the current level of service in the City, while also lifting a hiring freeze that has prevented retired police ambassadors from being deployed and academy classes from beginning. This legislation was approved by a vote of 9-2.
Second, contract extensions for two of the City’s ambassador programs will ensure that the Tenderloin, Mid-Market, Downtown, South of Market, Union Square and all along the waterfront continue to have ambassador coverage. This legislation was unanimously approved by the Board of Supervisors.
These actions are part of a public safety push the Mayor is leading to address critical short-term and long-term safety needs in the City that also includes disrupting open-air drug markets and addressing long-term staffing needs for the San Francisco Police Department.
“Public safety is the number one issue I hear about from residents and small businesses every day,” said Mayor London Breed. “These measures address immediate, on-the- ground needs in our neighborhoods, by ensuring that our police officers are able to respond to calls for service and address major safety needs, while also keeping ambassadors on our streets to make them more welcoming and safer. I want to thank all of the community members who stepped forward to express their support for these measures and for public safety in our city.”
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 (June 30, 2023.) She was joined by co-sponsors Supervisors Catherine Stefani, Rafael Mandelman, Matt Dorsey, and Joel Engardio. During the legislative process, the supplemental was reduced to $25 million.
The approval of the supplemental ensures 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, theft, and violent crimes. Importantly, this supplemental prevents mandated service cuts and lifts a mandated a hiring freeze.
“Things in San Francisco are changing for the better and we need to sustain our efforts. This budget supplemental allows us to maintain our focus on addressing drug dealing, violent crime, and property crime,” said SFPD Chief William Scott. “The largest single category of the overtime by far is being spent to backfill each of the ten police district stations, and that impacts every community in San Francisco.”
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 highly positive, consistent feedback about the beneficial impact they are having.
“We thank Mayor Breed, the Board of Supervisors, and the City and County of San Francisco for their investment and commitment to developing an innovative public safety model that provides inclusion and opportunity for folks who traditionally have been counted out,” said Founder and CEO of Urban Alchemy, Dr. Lena Miller. “By compassionately responding to anger and despair, our Practitioners work their magic every day to peacefully intervene and deescalate often dangerous situations that may harm our communities. Urban Alchemy is building a system designed and implemented by the people it impacts while setting a precedent for what safe, community-based alternatives can look like across the country.”
“Our Welcome Ambassadors are essential to enhancing the visitor experience in Union Square," said Marisa Rodriguez, CEO of Union Square Alliance. "We are proud to partner with the City to ensure that San Francisco remains a welcoming, safe and vibrant destination for all."
In addition to these actions, the Mayor is also pushing for two more solutions to address public safety in the City.
The first is to increase disruption of open-air drug dealing by expediting hiring for prosecutors focused on drug dealing. The Mayor has introduced a 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.
The second is to strengthen retention and recruit new police officers by approving a new police contract. 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 for larger cities while also adding incentives for officers looking to transfer from other jurisdictions. The legislation to adopt the contract must be approved by a majority of the Board of Supervisors.
This contract is part of a broader strategy to address long-term police staffing issues. More about that effort can be found here.