Skip to main content
Politics & Policy

San Francisco supervisor calls for more regular police foot patrols with new legislation

San Francisco Supervisor Ahsha Safaí makes an appearance at Mayor London Breed’s State of the City address in San Francisco on March 9, 2022. | Camille Cohen/The Standard

San Francisco Supervisor Ahsha Safaí introduced legislation Tuesday calling on the San Francisco Police Department to implement regular foot and bike patrols to prevent retail and other crime in the city’s neighborhoods. 

The legislation would also mandate annual Police Commission hearings to review foot and bike patrols as part of community policing plans. Safaí told The Standard that he has asked for a waiver of the board’s 30-day rule and hopes to have the bill first heard in October. 

“Putting officers back on the street will support values of protection and community engagement, especially in areas of our city where crime is most visible and rampant,” Safaí said in a statement. “Deployment should be data-driven to truly address this citywide issue.”

Under Safaí’s legislation, the police department’s regular patrols would have specific neighborhood beats based on a formula and maps developed by SFPD. The chief of police must also include information about the effort as part of the department’s annual budget. 

At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Safaí denounced the department’s current practices in introducing the legislation.

“I don’t think anyone has to question whether or not every neighborhood, every portion of the city, is experiencing crime in one way or another,” Safaí said. “We need better leadership on this issue, and today, we put forward an ordinance that requires, no longer requests but requires, that every captain in every police district in the city work with the chief to put together a foot-beat plan to put officers back out on the street.”

San Francisco Police Department officers patrol the streets in San Francisco on June 20. | Isaac Ceja/The Standard | Source: Isaac Ceja/The Standard

Supervisor Connie Chan, who co-sponsored the legislation, said it is needed to help with crime prevention and create rapport between police and neighborhoods. 

“I think it is time to make that commitment, that we want a police department that builds relationships with our communities, with our residents and with our merchants,” she said. 

The new ordinance follows previous attempts by local lawmakers to dictate police patrol strategies.

In 2020, then-Supervisor Matt Haney and Supervisor Shamann Walton introduced similar legislation that remains in limbo after being referred for agency review. The lawmakers introduced it again as a charter amendment for the  November 2020 ballot but later withdrew it. 

In 2022, the Board of Supervisors and Mayor London Breed approved an ordinance requiring SFPD to create a community policing plan incorporating foot and bike patrols. 

Police have deployed foot and bike patrols as part of recent crime suppression efforts in the Mid-Market area, as well as some other neighborhoods. But SFPD’s staffing issues have been cited as an obstacle to deploying more of them. 

The legislation also follows an effort by Board President Aaron Peskin to trim police command staff in favor of more field roles. At a committee hearing last week, Safaí echoed Peskin’s concerns over high turnover among station captains. 

“I’ve been in office for six and a half years and have had five captains,” Safaí said at the meeting. “And what that does for the ability to police my district is undermine community confidence.”