District changes, foot patrols OK with commission

Two Board of Supervisors ordinances that will, if passed, directly affect the operation of the San Francisco Police Department gained approval from the board that oversees the department Thursday.

The San Francisco Police Commission voted at their meeting to support the legislation, submitted by Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi. The supervisor said the two bills are aimed at reducing crime and, specifically, lowering the city’s homicide rate.

One ordinance would set up a yearlong pilot program that would mandate police foot patrols in the Western Addition. The other would compel the police chief to review the boundaries of The City’s 10 district stations every 10 years to fight changing “pockets” of crime.

Mirkarimi sent the two ordinances to the Police Commission for review before putting them on the board’s agenda, but the commission carries no legal weight with the board. If it had voted not to support the ordinances, the board could still vote to pass them.

The ordinances generally received support from the commission, which approved them with conditions. It asked Mirkarimi to add more public comment into the process of implementing the ordinance on district boundaries and indicated that it would hold him responsible for altering the foot patrol ordinance after the yearlong program ends.

Police Chief Heather Fong said she supports both ordinances, but she emphasized that she did not want to “rob Peter to pay Paul” in staffing the department.

“I don’t expect a captain to pull two radio cars to staff a foot beat and have those response times go up,” she said. The department will use overtime to staff beats for which on-duty officers are not available, she said.

Mirkarimi agreed to help gain funding for the ordinance if the department requires it. “I’m not going to make a demand on the Police Department and not fund it,” he said.

amartin@examiner.com

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