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New downtown San Francisco drug-dealing command center to open

An SFPD vehicle patrols United Nations Plaza in San Francisco on May 11. | Jason Henry for The Standard

San Francisco is set to open a new unified command center to combat open-air drug dealing in the Downtown area, city officials said Friday.

The new center to combat the drug crisis will be named the Drug Market Agency Coordination Center (DMACC), according to the Department of Emergency Management, which will work with San Francisco police and the Department of Public Health to operate the center.

An emergency management department spokesperson confirmed the center would open within the next two weeks at a location on Market Street near Civic Center. The exact location will not be disclosed due to security risks.

The emergency management department says the coordinated effort has been in place since April 17 but will move from a virtual to a physical in-person center, allowing the different agencies, including federal and state partners, to work more closely together to direct resources to disrupt open-air drug markets more effectively.

New data collection strategies will also be implemented to produce monthly reports on outputs and outcomes related to disrupting San Francisco drug markets.

"The mission of the DMACC is to coordinate all lines of operational effort—including engagement, enforcement and treatment—related to disrupting and reducing the severity and number of open-air drug markets on the streets of San Francisco, with the ultimate objective to identify paths to recovery for those sick with substance use disorder," a spokesperson for the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management said.

San Francisco city officials held a brief meeting at United Nations Plaza on May 23. | Benjamin Fanjoy for The Standard

The announcement comes just 10 days after Board President Aaron Peskin brought Mayor London Breed to an open-air public meeting to grill her on the drug crisis. The meeting was cut short and moved inside after hecklers interrupted proceedings, as the meeting was packing up, a woman threw in brick in the direction of city officials, hitting a high school girl, who was not harmed.

As the meeting continued inside, Breed teased a May 22 meeting with officials including U.S. House Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi and law enforcement on the drug crisis but refused to provide further details of what was discussed.

City officials are also developing a pilot program that could allow for the enforcement of public intoxication laws.

A man shouts at the UN Plaza press conference
An individual yells in protest during a meeting held at U.N. Plaza in San Francisco on May 23. | Benjamin Fanjoy for The Standard

“Proximity to other law enforcement agencies is not the same as coordination,” said Randy Shaw, director of the nonprofit Tenderloin Housing Clinic and a member of the Tenderloin Business Association.

Shaw said he would prefer to see the mayor appoint someone to command the effort against the drug crisis, rather than have a physical center created for different agencies to work from.

"I want to emphasize that we're not making progress, and it's gone on too long,” Shaw said.

The Mayor's Office did not respond to requests for comment by publication time. The San Francisco Police Department declined to comment.

This is a developing story.

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