Community input sought on policing

As Mayor Gavin Newsom looks toward national experts for opinions on how to reform The City's Police Department, a community-based effort is also in progress to determine ways to improve public safety.
Working through a San Francisco nonprofit called the Safety Network Program, thousands of surveys have been distributed in recent weeks asking community residents questions about how dangerous their neighborhood feels, what crimes they've witnessed or experienced, and what solutions or programs they feel might promote safety in their neighborhood.

“These are things that can be very helpful for developing community-based strategies,” Mayor Gavin Newsom said about the Safety Network Program survey. Making reference to recent high-level discussions about improving what's known as community policing, which encourages officers to develop personal connections with the residents within their beat, Newsom added, “We need to come up with a new version of community policing. We already have community policing, but it's not as effective as it's going to be.”

The Safety Network Program hires organizers from existing community-based nonprofits in each of 10 police districts in San Francisco. This person is charged with finding ways to create connections between citizens and law enforcement, as well as city agencies and other local resources,to prevent crime. The Safety Network Program operates on an annual $645,000 grant from The City.

Jessica Look, a Safety Network organizer who works through the Telegraph Hill Neighborhood Center, said she's been visiting merchants meetings, youth groups and senior centers, among other community gathering spots, and has received a range of survey responses.

“The older generation wants to see more foot patrols and police officers on bikes,” Look said. “The youth I've been with, they don't want to see more police.”

Copies of the survey are available online at http://safetynetwork.org, or by calling the Safety Network offices at (415) 202-7940.

The deadline for submitting surveys is April 15, with a report highlighting each district's survey responses expected to be released by the end of May.

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