Sponsor of bill calls project ‘unorthodox’ but needed in face of rising violent crime
In one of the most heated political fights of the year, the Board of Supervisors succeeded in getting more police officers to walk patrol beats in high-crime areas. In an 8-3 vote Tuesday, supervisors favored requiring regular foot patrols in the vicinity of eight of the 10 San Francisco police stations.
Supervisors Aaron Peskin, Michela Alioto-Pier and Sean Elsbernd voted against the legislation.
“The Board of Supervisors is dictating to its police captains how to deploy its troops. I think that is a major mistake. This is not something that I think we should be doing,” Supervisor Sean Elsbernd said.
Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who drafted the legislation, agreed it was “unorthodox” but said The City was lacking leadership as violent crime, including homicides, continues to rise.
Community members were “craving” more foot patrols as a way to decrease the unprecedented levels of violence that has plagued San Francisco in the last three years, he said. There have been 73 homicides so far this year, and last year there was a record-setting high of 96 killings.
The Police Department originally opposed the legislation, saying it would increase response times to violent crimes by as much as 33 percent because the department is understaffed — the staff has more than 200 officers below the voter-mandated level of 1,971.
Police Chief Heather Fong said this is no longer a big concern. Prior to Tuesday’s meeting, Mirkarimi agreed to extend the implementation date of the legislation until Jan. 1, giving the department about 25 more days to prepare.
Fong said the delay allows the department to acquire 97 more officers. The new bodies will allow the department “to advance the provisions of the legislation,” Fong said.
Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier opposed the legislation, saying she was worried it would take officers away from her district. Supervisor Aaron Peskin, meanwhile, said he voted against the legislation because the captains of Central Station, which covers the district he represents, have “deployed their resources both in radio cars and in beats in a manner that has been effective.”
If approved in a final vote by the board next week, beginning Jan. 1, at least one officer will be walking a beat on at least two shifts a day in the area of each of the eight police stations — the Northern, Park, Tenderloin, Mission, Ingleside, Taraval, Bayview and Southern district police stations.
The board also voted 6-5 to consider expanding the program to include the remaining two police stations.
IN OTHER ACTION
BAN ON MASSAGE PARLORS: Supervisor Fiona Ma submitted a resolution that would establish a one-year moratorium on new massage parlors, which authorities say are frequently fronts for prostitution, from opening up in San Francisco. Ma also has a proposal before the board next week that would require a hearing before the Planning Commission for any new massage parlor.
BENEFIT DISTRICT PONDERED FOR WHARF: Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin introduced a resolution allowing a vote by businesses in the Fisherman’s Wharf area to vote on whether to form a community benefit district. The district would levy a tax on these businesses. It would generate about $187,000 for such things as advertising and security.