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Supervisor wants more SFPD foot patrols

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Putting more San Francisco uniformed police officers on foot patrol in the Western Addition may be legislated, and not simply policy, if a law introduced Tuesday gains support.

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who represents the Western Addition neighborhood that has been ravaged by gun violence, put forth an ordinance that would implement a yearlong pilot program requiring daily foot patrols.

Commanding officers at the two police stations that handle the Western Addition — Park Station and Northern Station — would staff at least two of the three daily scheduled shifts with at least one officer walking the beat. The commanding officer, under the program, would assign officers to routes and times most in need of police attention.

Mirkarimi's district was rocked last month by the brazen daylight killing of Dante White, 22, who was shot inside the gym at the Ella Hill Hutch Community Center while he played basketball with children. Following that slaying, George Smith, the center's director, said not enough police officers patrol the area, especially during the afternoon hours whenthe center opens to children as a safe haven.

Advocates of community policing have said getting officers out of their cars and into contact with community members will help bridge a gap in trust that exists between residents of high-crime areas and the police.

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A representative from the Police Department was not available, but department spokesman Neville Gittens said late last month that, while the department tries to staff as many beats as possible, it simply does not have the manpower to fill every shift.

“As it stands right now, it's on an ad hoc basis,” Mirkarimi said. He said Mayor Gavin Newsom and police brass have expressed support for more uniformed foot patrols for the area last year, but there has been no hard progress in getting a set number of officers out on beats.

“It feels awkward from this branch of government to have to resort to legislation to make this happen,” Mirkarimi said, but he said he wanted to “move the discussion from stagnant to active.”

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