Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Friday a public safety partnership including the California Highway Patrol, California National Guard and other organizations intended to disrupt fentanyl trafficking in San Francisco.
The partnership – which will include the CHP, National Guard, San Francisco Police Department and the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office – will focus on assisting the city dismantle fentanyl trafficking and disrupting the supply of the opioid in the city by "holding the operators of large-scale drug trafficking operations accountable," according to a statement from the governor's office.
Through the agreement, the CHP will identify methods to assist the SFPD, including through the assignment of CHP personnel and resources to assist the police department and city in its ongoing efforts to address the fentanyl crisis through technical assistance, training, and drug trafficking enforcement within key areas of San Francisco, according to the governor's statement.
The National Guard will also identify specialist personnel and resources to support analysis of drug trafficking operations, with emphasis on disrupting and dismantling fentanyl trafficking rings.
The partnership "will not seek to criminalize those struggling with substance use," but will instead focus its efforts on those supplying and trafficking opioids, according to the governor's office.
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"I'm sure it will come back in our direction," Laurie Thomas, the executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, told The Examiner
"Two truths can co-exist at the same time: San Francisco’s violent crime rate is below comparably sized cities like Jacksonville and Fort Worth — and there is also more we must do to address public safety concerns, especially the fentanyl crisis," Newsom said in a prepared statement. "Through this new collaborative partnership, we are providing more law enforcement resources and personnel to crack down on crime linked to the fentanyl crisis, holding the poison peddlers accountable, and increasing law enforcement presence to improve public safety and public confidence in San Francisco."
Citing San Francisco Chronicle reports, the governor's office said fentanyl-related deaths in the city deaths have largely occurred in or near the Tenderloin and South of Market neighborhoods of the city.
The city has seen a more than 40% increase in overdose deaths from January through March of 2023. San Francisco also had the second-highest overdose rate in the nation, along with the second-highest death rate from fentanyl overdose in 2020.
"I want to thank Governor Newsom for this critical support to help break up the open-air drug dealing happening in our city," said San Francisco Mayor London Breed. "Our Police Department and District Attorney have been partnering to tackle this issue and increase enforcement, but our local agencies can use more support. With the Governor’s leadership and clear direction, our state enforcement agencies can partner with us to make a difference for our residents, businesses, and workers who are living with the impacts every day."