Crypto tech boss Chris Larsen has poured $600,000 of his own cash into an aggressive advertising campaign that premiered during Saturday’s March Madness Final Four games.
The Ripple CEO and SF’s police union partnered on the campaign that will be shown at Giants and Warriors games in the near future as well as across Northern California. Ripple is a crypto solutions company for businesses.
The plan is to attract more recruits to the San Francisco Police Department as it grapples with a staffing crisis, however, SFPD is not involved in the campaign.
“Public safety’s something that if we don’t get right, it’s going to be a slow recovery Downtown, for tourism, workers,” Larsen said.
The campaign will involve running ads that will mostly appear on TV and social media, targeted to an 18 to 34 age demographic.
Low staffing has left some areas of the city with only a handful of officers on duty at night. While the Board of Supervisors recently backed Mayor London Breed’s $25 million overtime boost for the department, it was dubbed a “bailout” by Supervisor Dean Preston, who voted against the plans along with Supervisor Shamann Walton.
The Standard received several of the produced ads before they were broadcast. They feature serving officers, including the head of the police union, Lt. Tracy McCray.
“I was born in the city. I was raised in the city. Now I’m protecting the city,” McCray said in one of the ads. The Western Addition native explains her connection to the city from a patrol car that is at times adorned with a childhood picture of her.
Another ad stars police Sgt. Culbert Chu, a Sunset native, whose patrol car also features a picture of him as a child.
“I still remember my mother’s reaction to me becoming a police officer,” Chu says in the ad through laughter. “Let’s just say she wasn’t too thrilled. The Asian hate crimes were making news, and that is when my parents saw this job differently.”
McCray told The Standard that high rates of overtime have led to burnout among an aging officer cohort, driving more officers to leave the San Francisco Police Department.
“We’ve been working a lot of overtime, and people don’t want to work 60 hours of overtime, so recruiting more officers is part of that,” McCray said. “We need to go after the recruitment trail hard.”
Larsen said he approached the police union because they are a nonprofit organization, rather than a city department that he can directly make donations to.
Larsen has funded other public safety initiatives in the past, including installing cameras around San Francisco, which police controversially accessed to monitor protests.
Garrett Leahy can be reached at [email protected]