SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — San Francisco police will no longer be called to settle disputes between neighbors, or to handle homeless people, or any non-criminal cases, according to a new plan announced by Mayor London Breed.
But not everybody thinks it’s a good idea.
“This is pure political pandering,” said Joe Alioto-Veronese, a former San Francisco Police Commissioner.
Alioto-Veronese said the SFPD is already underfunded and understaffed and that the concept of contracting social workers has its limits, as evidenced by the homeless crisis. The commissioner said the public should consider the fact that the SFPD has already been through major reforms, including diversifying hiring practices.
Also, the force has expanded training, such as the de-escalation techniques now being taught at the police academy that have reduced incidents of police use-of-force.
“It’s a different department,” Alioto-Veronese said. “A lot of those old ways are gone. So let’s not look to our police department and try to punish them because that’s really the wrong approach. What we need to do is not defund or even reprioritize money because that’s just a different way of saying, ‘we’re going to take money away from the police department.’”
Breed’s plan also calls for the city to reduce the need to police as first responders to nonviolent situations, and for transforming the way officers are hired, promoted, trained and disciplined.
“San Francisco has made progress reforming our police department, but we know that we still have significant work to do,” Breed said in a statement.
“We know that a lack of equity in our society overall leads to a lot of the problems that police are being asked to solve. We are going to keep pushing for additional reforms and continue to find ways to reinvest in communities that have historically been underserved and harmed by systemic racism,” she said.
Breed said as part of the plan, she’s already directed the Police Department to establish policy to explicitly ban the use of military-grade weapons like tear gas, tanks and bayonets, against unarmed people.
She has also called for a strategy on taking away such weapons from the department by 2021 and to create “safeguards” against federal grants that fund them.
Breed’s plan also calls for ending the use of police officers as responders to nonviolent calls and instead for the use of non-law enforcement agencies like community or city-based providers. Part of the measure aims to reduce the need for armed officer interventions at schools.