Mayor Breed to Prioritize Police Staffing and Public Safety in Upcoming Budget

Budget priorities such as hiring more police officers, expanding ambassadors citywide, and ramping up street crisis alternatives as part of the City’s public safety strategy
May 26, 2023

San Francisco, CA – Mayor London N. Breed today joined Supervisors Catherine Stefani, Joel Engardio, Matt Dorsey, and Rafael Mandelman, Police Chief William Scott and City and community leaders to announce planned investments on key public safety priorities as part of her upcoming budget.  

As part of her budget, the Mayor proposes directing investments into key public safety priorities. These include:   

  • Meeting Long-Term Police Hiring Goals to get SFPD back to full staffing  
  • Expanding Civilianization and Alternatives to Policing, including maintaining citywide ambassador program coverage  
  • Supporting the District Attorney’s Office work to prosecute a wide range of crimes, including drug trafficking operations, hate crimes, organized retail theft, and gun violence.   

“San Francisco must be a safe and just city for all,” said Mayor London Breed. “Combating the fentanyl crisis, preventing, and reducing violent and property crime, and reducing the fear of crime in our city requires public safety resources and collaboration between SFPD, the District Attorney’s Office, other city agencies, community groups, and others. This Budget will deliver those resources as we also work to reform and expand our work to offer alternatives to policing so we can deliver on public safety.”   

Issues around public safety remain at the forefront of the Mayor’s budget priorities in response to calls for needed improvements from the community, and to support the City’s economic recovery efforts which benefits the entire city, residents, workers, visitors, and business owners alike.     

The Mayor’s proposed budget will advance these key investments while closing a $780 million two-year deficit. Final budget numbers for all the Departments, including the Police Department and District Attorney’s Office, will be available when the Budget is introduced to the Board of Supervisors for review by June 1st.   

"San Francisco's future depends on our maintaining safe, clean, accessible public spaces,” said Supervisor Rafael Mandelman. “As Vice Chair of the Board's Budget & Appropriations Committee, I will work to preserve the Mayor's public safety investments in police officer recruitment and retention, expanded ambassadors and street crisis response teams, and new resources to end open-air drug markets."   

“A city that is clean and safe is essential to our economic recovery,” said Supervisor Catherine Stefani. “Through these strategic public safety investments, we will meaningfully address community concerns and ensure the safety of our residents and visitors. I look forward to working alongside the Mayor and my colleagues to make certain that these priorities are fully funded.”   

"Investing in public safety must be at the forefront of our budget priorities, because San Francisco can't afford to not solve our police understaffing crisis," said Supervisor Matt Dorsey. "We need to make real progress toward a fully staffed police department to provide a safe and welcoming experience for our residents, for commuters, for visitors and for conventions. It's also essential if we're to have an effective drug market intervention strategy. I’m grateful to Mayor Breed for her leadership on these issues, and I'm committed to being a vocal ally to prioritize public safety and shut down street-level drug dealing."  

“Public safety is the most basic and important role of government. Without safety, society unravels,” said Supervisor Joel Engardio. “A healthy and functioning city requires families, seniors, students, tourists, and customers to all feel safe. Investing in public safety first will lay the foundation for the rest of the work needed to create our best San Francisco.”   

Meeting Long-Term Police Hiring Goals   

The Mayor is calling for continued investments to fill vacancies and meet both short and long-term hiring goals. Since the onset of COVID-19, the Police Department has experienced both a high rate of officer attrition and difficulty attracting new officers to the Department, causing significantly low Police Academy class rosters and an overall staffing shortage of over 500 officers.  

Recently, San Francisco has adapted strategies to include increasing recruitment and retention incentives. As a result, since the end of 2022, SFPD has seen a consistent increase in applications. In the last six months, SFPD has seen a significant increase in applications which, if sustained through the entire year, would match levels of interest not seen since 2018.    

To take advantage of the growing interest in SFPD, the Mayor proposed the following police staffing efforts:   

  • Long-Term Hiring Goals: Create funding to hire 220 new officers in the next two years, with an initial goal of reaching at least 1,800 sworn officers by 2024. This is part of a multi-year strategy to get back to full staffing. These numbers are based on the independent report mandated by the voters to establish the City’s staffing minimums.   
  • Recruitment and Retention: Funding the recently approved contract to make the City the highest paid starting salary for officers of large Bay Area cities (100,000 or more) and to provide significant retention incentives to prevent the outflow of experienced officers.   
  • Academy classes: Moving to a dynamic Academy class model so that the Department is ready to begin classes as they fill. Previously, academy classes did not begin until a certain number of cadets was reached, but this model will allow the Department to respond more dynamically and not lose potential candidates due to delay.    

The Mayor’s proposal also includes funding for the SFPD to conduct various outreach strategies, improve the application process, and continue to add resources dedicated to recruiting. In the upcoming year, the Mayor’s Office will convene a Police Staffing Accountability Working Group with representatives from the Police Department, the Department of Human Resources, and the Controller’s Office. This group will work collaboratively through the course of the year to improve and track outcomes in hiring, leave management, and overtime usage within the Police Department.     

“I truly believe we are at a turning point. Applications to become a San Francisco Police officer are rising and we are working harder than ever to turn the tide on the fentanyl crisis,” said Police Chief Bill Scott. “This budget proposal set forth by Mayor Breed will help us ensure consistent and sustainable deployment of officers and investigators which will increase police presence, help solve crime, and enable the SFPD to commit the resources necessary to collaborate with our public and community partners. These resources and the budget to support them are absolutely necessary in order to increase the feeling of safety and security in San Francisco.”   

Civilianization and Alternatives to Policing   

San Francisco continues to be a leader in transitioning non-law enforcement work away from police officers to provide a more appropriate and effective response, and to free up our officers to focus on crime and urgent calls for service that officers are uniquely able to handle. The Mayor has made significant investments over the last few years to develop and implement new alternatives to law enforcement response strategies, including community ambassadors and street crisis response teams.   

The Mayor’s proposal shared today would maintain and grow these innovations, such as:  

  • Expanding civilianization:  Increasing civilian Police Service Aides, who assist with administrative duties, such as writing and filing reports for lower-priority incidents. This will start by funding an additional 22 PSAs to free up police officers to address urgent public safety needs. 
  • Building 9-1-1 call diversion efforts: Maintaining funding for the Department of Emergency Management (DEM) to coordinate the City’s wide range of Street Response Teams that are available citywide, 24 hours a day and seven days a week, to help those struggling with behavioral health needs, homelessness, and other situations that benefit from non-police responses.    
  • Continuing the recent expansion of ambassadors: Ambassador programs have provided a key safety measure across the City, and the Mayor’s budget will prevent cuts to any of these programs. This includes recent expansions such as SFPD Community Ambassadors (retired police officers) in multiple locations across the city, Urban Alchemy in the Tenderloin and Mid-Market neighborhoods, Welcome Ambassadors in Downtown and key tourist areas, BART attendants in Downtown transit stations, and the new Mission Ambassadors.   

“The Welcome Ambassador program has become instrumental in our meetings and conventions servicing and sales efforts. Not only do we continue to receive extremely positive feedback on how the Welcome Ambassadors make event attendees feel more welcome and safer, but the program has also become a competitive advantage and is helping us secure future business for Moscone Center,” said Joe D’Alessandro, president and CEO of the San Francisco Travel Association.   

“San Francisco and Urban Alchemy are advancing a new, innovative model of community-based safety that is delivering impactful results for residents, businesses, visitors, and most importantly, vulnerable populations and those often counted out by society,” said Dr. Lena Miller, CEO of Urban Alchemy. “We believe our Practitioners all have a unique superpower to connect with and serve those experiencing trauma and crisis, and they work daily to help people be their best selves no matter the circumstance. Our work is being recognized by cities across the country for its efficacy and we are thankful for San Francisco’s and Mayor Breed’s bold leadership to back and envision new approaches to public safety for all.”   

Delivering Accountability   

San Francisco has been working aggressively to prioritize shutting down open-air drug markets that harm our communities and those struggling with addiction. To ensure there is accountability and no tolerance for open-air drug markets that are claiming lives and destroying community, the Mayor’s proposed enhancements will fund the recent expansion of prosecutors in the District Attorney’s Office dedicated to targeting drug trafficking and dealing operations.    

Between July 8, 2022 and May 18, 2023, the District Attorney’s Office filed 714 felony narcotics sales cases compared to 404 for the same time period by the previous administration.   

New attorneys have been hired to handle the influx of narcotics cases that are no longer being diverted or settled for misdemeanors. The District Attorney’s Office is more aggressively seeking to detain offenders with multiple cases or who represent a significant public safety risk even at their first arrest. Attorneys are being assigned to caseloads with only narcotics trials so they can focus exclusively on this area and ensure that they have the time and attention required to successfully handle these cases. The Mayor’s proposed budget would maintain and support building out this unit to ensure that there are adequate resources dedicated to prosecuting people responsible for open-air drug trafficking and drug dealing.   

“The Mayor’s proposed budget makes key, common sense public safety investments that will work to keep the public safe and better align resources to disrupt open-air drug dealing and hold dealers accountable,” said District Attorney Brooke Jenkins.  “The proposed investments meet the city’s most pressing challenges, directly addressing neighborhood concerns across the city, while working to spur vital economic recovery.”  

“A vibrant, clean and safe San Francisco is the key to attracting business, strengthening community engagement and trust, and ensuring a thriving experience for both visitors and locals alike,” said Marisa Rodriguez, CEO of the Union Square Alliance. “We express our appreciation to Mayor London Breed, Board of Supervisors Rafael Mandelman, Catherine Stefani, Matt Dorsey and Joel Engardio, Police Chief Bill Scott, and District Attorney Brooke Jenkins for their commitment to addressing these challenges in order to pave the way for our city to embody our collective vision.”