SFPD plans to pound more ground

With more money for police officers in the new city budget, The City is preparing to boost foot patrols in some neighborhoods, city officials announced Thursday.

There are 88 officers citywide assigned to walk their beat or ride bicycles instead of driving in a patrol car. By the end of July, 37 additional officers will be added at four police stations, serving areas that include Market Street, South of Market, Union Square, North Beach, Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf and the Mission district.

The total annual investment for the foot patrols program is $10.8 million, according to the Mayor’s Office.

Mayor Gavin Newsom, speaking at a news conference with police Chief Heather Fong on Thursday, said that the reason the new beat patrols were not put in such crime-plagued neighborhoods as the Bayview and the Western Addition was that those areas already had substantial numbers of beat patrol officers, along with other crime-prevention tactics such as the gang task force and tactical units.

“These are enhancements that we think are more appropriate for those areas, in addition to a substantial increase in community policing officers that we had already advanced,” Newsom said. “There are other areas of The City that need similar kinds of attention and coverage.”

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who represents the Western Addition and championed two foot patrol measures last year that were ultimately vetoed by Newsom, said he was pleased to see more foot patrols added to The City’s streets, but that he didn’t believe the boost should be focused on “the three areas that are host to the largest concentrations of tourists.”

“It’s a mistake to not bolster other parts of San Francisco as well,” Mirkarimi said.

Under the legislation Mirkarimi authored last year, about 33 officers each day would have been required to spend their shift walking a beat in the majority of The City’s police stations.

On Thursday, Newsom repeated his reasons for vetoing last year’s foot patrol legislation, saying he didn’t think the Board of Supervisors should be dictating deployment procedures.

“I don’t feel that that legislation was helpful, and it got in the way of the expertise of the chief and the different stations,” Newsom said.

Mirkarimi said he pushed for the legislation because The City has no defined foot patrol program or policies to assure that it’s sustained. He pointed to a July report in The Boston Globe in which police officials in Boston attributed a 31 perent decline in shootings during the last six months in part to a renewed community policing program.

beslinger@examiner.com

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