San Francisco police, firefighters face budget ax

Hundreds of police officers and firefighters would lose their jobs under one proposal introduced Tuesday to close The City’s more than $550 million deficit.

The public safety departments are being asked for significant cuts under legislation proposed Tuesday by Supervisor Chris Daly that would cut salaries and benefits in the Police and Fire departments by $20 million for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.

That would result in the loss of about 100 police officers for the remainder of the current fiscal year, and about 50 firefighters. The proposal comes as the Police Department says new strategies have cut the number of homicides in half this year.

“This is just another Chris Daly scheme to cut police and fire at the expense of The City’s public safety,” said Joe Arellano, spokesman for Mayor Gavin Newsom. “Mayor Newsom will oppose this irresponsible idea every step of the way.”

Firefighters’ union leader John Hanley opposed the cut.

“I disagree and the citizens of San Francisco disagree, too,” Hanley said. “They want to see firefighters and police on the streets.”

Daly said that cuts to police and fire are as much a public safety risk as cuts to public health services.

It would take six votes by the Board of Supervisors to approve the budget cut, and Daly himself seemingly admitted it is a tough sell politically.

“It’s pretty radical even for Supervisor Daly to stand up and make this introduction,” Daly said. “I’m sure colleagues are not going to be excited about jumping into it.”

The cuts would force Newsom to reduce spending in these departments as part of his plan to balance the budget. Newsom has asked city departments for $45 million in cuts for the midyear and up to 30 percent cuts for next fiscal year.

IN OTHER ACTION:

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd introduced legislation that would make it illegal to jump into any animal enclosures at the San Francisco Zoo. The proposal would increase the fine from $10 to $100.

A vote on Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi’s legislation to require the mayor to disclose and reimburse The City for cost of security detail used when outside San Francisco and engaged in campaign activity was postponed after being revised. Amendments include requiring reimbursement for security not outside of The City, but outside of California.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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