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Politics & Policy

Voters approve Prop. E, giving more powers to San Francisco police

A person is using a tablet displaying a map and thermal image.
Prop. E would give SFPD the ability to use drones along with other surveillance technology. | Source: Morgan Ellis/The Standard

Returns Tuesday night showed San Francisco voters approving Prop. E, a ballot measure that would give San Francisco’s Police Department expanded surveillance powers. 

The proposition—which was placed on the ballot by Mayor London Breed—needed a simple majority to pass. As of Friday at 4 p.m., the measure was winning with 54.6% of the vote and roughly 37,500 votes still left to count.

The contentious ballot measure saw huge injections of cash come its way. Its supporters claimed police officers have been stymied in their efforts to fight crime, while opponents said it will roll back hard-fought reforms.

The proposition would allow the city’s police department to use drones, license plate readers and more cameras, while also offering officers more latitude when it comes to car chases. 

It also would require that any new rules imposed on officers proposed by the Police Commission, the department’s watchdog, first go through a community feedback process. The measure also tasks the department and commission with finding ways to cut down the time police spend filling out paperwork.

Over $1.6 million in support came from a variety of moderate funders, including tech executive Chris Larsen and Ari Lurie, the brother of mayoral candidate Daniel Lurie. Opponents, including the American Civil Liberties Union, raised a little over $200,000.

“I am grateful to the voters for their passage of Proposition E, which will allow us to build on the progress we are delivering on public safety in San Francisco," Breed said in a statement Tuesday night.

"By supporting the work of our police officers, expanding our use of technology and getting officers out from behind their desks and onto our streets, we will continue in our mission to make San Francisco a safer city.” 

The San Francisco Department of Elections will count all vote-by-mail ballots received with valid postmarks delivered by mail by March 12. Mailed ballots must be postmarked by March 5 to be counted.