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San Francisco could add 100 new cops annually under ballot measure

San Francisco police investigators work at the scene of U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s home on Oct. 28, 2022. | Benjamin Fanjoy/The Standard

San Francisco Supervisors Matt Dorsey and Catherine Stefani proposed a ballot measure Monday to direct additional funds to the city’s police force for hiring more officers over five years.

The measure would reestablish a mandated staffing level for the San Francisco Police Department at 2,182 officers citywide. As of January 2023, the department had 1,537 full-duty officers. As the city increases its police presence, it would also create a budget provision to reach benchmark numbers over the next five years.

The ballot measure will require voter approval to amend the City Charter. The earliest that it could be put on a ballot would be March 2024, and Dorsey and Stefani will have to marshal either a majority of the supervisors to support it or gather voter signatures to place it on the ballot.

Dorsey said he was prompted by the recent temporary closure of the Mid-Market Whole Foods Market over public safety concerns to issue the drafting request earlier than planned.

District 6 Supervisor Matt Dorsey asks the City Attorney's Office to draft a charter amendment to establish a minimum staffing level for police and a series of budget set-asides over five years toward that goal on April 12, 2023.

“San Francisco can no longer afford not to solve our police understaffing crisis,” said Dorsey, who represents District 6 and lives in the Mid-Market area. “San Franciscans—or at least the ones I represent in District 6—are demanding solutions, and they have a right to expect that from those of us in City Hall. I hope my colleagues will support this effort. We owe our residents nothing less.”

Dorsey requested the City Attorney’s Office to draft the charter amendment during the roll call at the Board of Supervisors' April 13 meeting.

According to a recent report by the Board of Supervisors Budget and Legislative Analyst's Office, the San Francisco Police Department’s budget was $762 million in fiscal 2022-23, 80% of which is from the city’s general fund. Roughly $510 million of that is for salaries and benefits. 

The city recently approved a $25 million emergency budget appropriation for police overtime due to understaffing.