Mayor London Breed's $27 million budget request for police overtime doesn't go far enough, according to one supervisor.
Supervisor Ahsha Safaí, who represents the Excelsior and Outer Mission, said Breed's request didn't take into account the needs of neighborhoods outside Downtown that are seeing an uptick in crime. Safai says he's asking for another $3 million to fund additional police patrols, and will announce that proposal at today's Board of Supervisors Budget and Appropriations Committee meeting.
"What we're going to be talking about today is a proposal to deal with the shortcomings that have been building over the last five years," said Safaí, referring to the police department's growing staffing shortage. "I think the proposal coming from the mayor falls short."
Breed's $27 million request is intended to fund officer overtime, as well as retired police officers who supplement beat patrols through SFPD’s Community Ambassadors Program. Alongside diminishing ranks—SFPD is more than 500 officers short, according to the Mayor's Office—the police department has relied more heavily on overtime hours to maintain patrols.
At a press conference in the Tenderloin last week, Breed pushed her overtime request alongside another grant increase that would pay for additional street ambassadors in and around Downtown.
"We don't want to take away from Downtown—that’s important. But there’s a lot of fear about the level of crime in the city," Safaí said. "There's a lot of members of the board who want to see more officers in their districts."
Supervisor Hillary Ronen, who represents the Mission, told The Standard in a recent interview that she's undecided on the $27 million overtime request but felt the police department was "overspending" and neglected her district.
Safaí said the additional $3 million would pay for about 50 patrol officers assigned to neighborhood stations. He criticized Breed for not acting with greater urgency to the police department's diminishing ranks.
"If you look at under this mayor over the last five years there’s been a precipitous decline [in police staffing]," Safaí said. "Many other cities have responded quicker than we have."
Breed's office dismissed that characterization, pointing to a police contract negotiation that included officer retention bonuses in addition to signing bonuses and other recruitment strategies, and said that Breed's request would fund patrols for citywide operations.
The police department plans to use the overtime funding to better respond to calls for service, continue drug arrests, and maintain enhanced operations in the Tenderloin and parts of the Mission in addition to keeping officers on citywide patrols, according to a document shared with the board.
Safaí's $3 million ask is one of multiple budget requests the board is likely to consider in the coming weeks.
Also at Wednesday's committee meeting, supervisors are set to review a $25 million request for more street cleaning and graffiti clean-up through the Department of Public Works.
Supervisor Dean Preston, a frequent police critic who represents the Tenderloin, has also called for $10 million to fund non-police safety measures such as grants to local businesses for security, ambassadors and a new "street-dealing intervention" program.
The committee is set to consider Breed's $27 million overtime request, among other budget issues, at today's meeting.
Annie Gaus can be reached at [email protected]