Retired San Francisco police officers will walk the beat in the Sunset District starting Friday, Supervisor Joel Engardio has announced.
The officers will be dressed in blue uniforms but unarmed and cannot make arrests, Engardio said. They will patrol the merchant corridors of Irving and Noriega Streets.
The news comes two months after the supervisor said just three or four officers patrol the Sunset at night. He later said on Twitter that seven officers were on duty every night from the Taraval Police District, which covers Golden Gate Park’s southern edge to San Mateo County's border.
SF Police Department crime data shows homes and businesses in the Taraval station's district are increasingly being targeted for property crimes. The west side of the city recorded a 47% increase in motor vehicle theft in 2020 from 2019 and a 30% uptick in burglary for 2021 from the year before. Now, larceny theft is spiking in western neighborhoods, rising 28% in 2022.
Engardio is expected to hold a press conference with Mayor London Breed on Friday at 1 p.m. where some of the retired officers will be introduced to the public. They will then walk the beat with the mayor and Engardio around Irving Street near 23rd Avenue.
The supervisor said 10 retired officers will join the program. They will carry radios and work shifts between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.
“They know what to call in and what not to call in. Right now, it’s a luxury to have officers walk the streets. We need all the help we can get given the shortage of officers,” Engardio told The Standard.
Retired officers walking the beat are part of the SFPD Community Ambassadors Program. Retired cops joined the program in a neighboring district at West Portal in November last year.
We’re proud to announce the expansion of our Community Ambassador Program to the West Portal neighborhood! These retired police officers continue to serve their city and aim to keep all those who work, live, and play in San Francisco safe. Thank you to each and every one of you! pic.twitter.com/RmhMgyuewr— San Francisco Police (@SFPD) November 10, 2022
Former Sunset District Supervisor Gordon Mar said he tried having retired cops patrol merchant corridors in the Sunset once before in 2021, but it didn’t work out.
“It was not the most impactful or cost-effective public safety program," Mar said. "That’s why we discontinued it."
Mar added that much of the property crime happening in the Sunset occurs late at night or early in the morning, when community ambassadors aren’t working.
Retired police officers were introduced to the Sunset through the Community Ambassadors Program from the fall 2021 until spring 2022, Mar said. The new program is being paid for from the recently passed police supplemental, Engardio said.
“In the time that we had retired police officers patrolling the Sunset, I never saw them, ever,” Mar said.
The Standard has reached out to local business proprietors along the merchant corridors for their thoughts on the program.
Garrett Leahy can be reached at [email protected]