Supes keep up heat on SFPD foot patrols

Proposal before board likely to expand beats; police chief still against legislation

Two city supervisors are seeking to expand a controversial proposal torequire foot patrol beats in certain sections of San Francisco, even as the Police Department and the Mayor’s Office continue to oppose the plan.

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi had originally drafted legislation to require foot patrols for a one-year pilot program for the Park and Northern district police stations, which are the stations within the district he represents, District 5.

Last week, when the legislation went before the Board of Supervisors, the legislation was amended to expand the pilot program to include the Tenderloin, Mission and Ingleside district police stations.

When the legislation comes before the Board of Supervisors Select Committee on Ending Gun and Gang Violence on Monday, Supervisor Sophie Maxwell said she will amend the legislation to include the Bayview district police station, and Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval said he wants to amend the legislation to include the Taraval district police station.

Police Chief Heather Fong has spoken against the legislation, saying requiring foot patrols will increase response times to 911 calls and run up millions of dollars in overtime. For example, by requiring one officer at the Northern Station to walk the beat, response times would increase by more than 14 minutes, according to Police Department statistics.</p>

The Police Department is considered understaffed, operating more than 200 officers below the voter-mandated level of 1,971 officers.

But Fong’s strong stance against the legislation has not caused city supervisors to back off.

“What we’re saying is OK, Heather [Fong], everybody is asking for this. You are going to have to give us a proposal. You are going to have to think creatively. Saying we don’t have enough people is not good enough,” Maxwell said.

“We shouldn’t be held hostage to this idea that due to whatever the optimal staffing levels are that foot patrols are seen as a kind of a secondcousin to community policing.” Mirkarimi said.

Mirkarimi emphasized that his legislation requires a one-year pilot program, which would allow The City to test the idea of foot patrol requirements.

The suggestion that foot patrols will increase response times “will always be the concern hanging over our heads, but does that concern go away just because we have 50 more officers or 50 less officers? We have no idea. And that has never been proven or disproven,” Mirkarimi said.

Sandoval said foot patrols can play a part in solving The City’s increase in violent crimes and are something that should have been implemented years ago.

“The fact that one of my colleagues has brought it up now and we’re seeing this much momentum provides me with a golden opportunity to do what everybody in The City wants to see happen,” Sandoval said.

jsabatini@examiner.comBay Area NewsGovernment & PoliticsLocalPolitics

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