Mayor London Breed Announces Safer San Francisco Ballot Measure to Support Public Safety

Measure will give the police the tools they need to enforce the laws and change rules to improve officer efficiency while preventing the Police Commission from interfering in community safety efforts
October 17, 2023

San Francisco, CA – Today Mayor London N. Breed joined City officials and community leaders to announce a Safer San Francisco ballot measure for the March 2024 election. The measure will remove obstacles that have been put in place that prevent San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) officers from being able to more effectively and efficiently do their jobs.   

Safer San Francisco will put public safety first and put SFPD officers in position to better serve our communities. The measure does three things: 

  • Gives police officers access to 21st century technology and tools to do their jobs.   
  • Changes rules to get more officers out on the street and pursue criminals.   
  • Prevents the City’s Police Commission from prioritizing ideology before community safety.   

The Mayor will sign this measure onto the March 2024 ballot, where it would need a simple majority to pass into law.   

“We need to give our officers the tools necessary to keep our communities safe and not leave them stuck behind a desk when they can be out on the street helping people,” said Mayor London Breed. “There has been too much focus on adding bureaucracy to the work our officers do and putting up barriers to new technologies that can help improve policing in San Francisco. It’s time to change that. We can pass this measure, while still keeping important reforms in place, so that we put community safety at the forefront of our work.”    

“San Franciscans rightly expect that our police officers spend their time fighting crime on our streets––not filling out paperwork behind their desks. The Safer San Francisco initiative will cut needless bureaucracy to allow police to focus on what matters most, without sacrificing critical reforms,” said Supervisor Catherine Stefani. “As we work to recruit and retain the best and brightest, this initiative marks a significant step toward making sure San Franciscans have the efficient and effective Police Department they deserve.”  

“This is a smart-on-crime approach that will remove needless inefficiencies and enable our police officers to do their jobs more effectively,” said Supervisor Matt Dorsey. “Especially in this time of unprecedented police understaffing, San Francisco needs the flexibility to use cameras and surveillance technology to protect public safety in the same way other California counties do. This ballot measure will streamline onerous restrictions on police officers’ use of cameras, and help hold criminals and drug dealers accountable. It will make San Francisco safer and it will help save lives.”  

“We need police officers on patrol catching criminals and protecting residents, not stuck in the station buried in paperwork. This common-sense measure lets officers do their job and gives them the tools they need like cameras and drones to outsmart organized crime,” said Supervisor Joel Engardio, who represents the Sunset neighborhoods. “Our police department is a leader in reform, but that shouldn’t get in the way of effective policing. Residents are demanding safe streets and this measure will bring much-needed balance to how we approach public safety in San Francisco.”  

Authorizing the Use of Technology  

Right now, SFPD officers cannot use basic 21st century tools that would help prevent and solve crimes including retail theft, auto theft, and car break-ins.   

Safer San Francisco will change city policies to allow police officers to use technology like city-owned and operated cameras and drones to prevent, investigate, and solve crimes. For additional new technology, the measure will allow for a pilot period of up to one year without a Board of Supervisors approval that would otherwise cause unnecessary delay, as long as best practices in protecting civil liberty and data retention are followed.  

Changing Rules Around Pursuit and Excessive Administrative Work  

Right now, SFPD officers are restricted in actions they can take on our streets and burdened with excessive paperwork and duplicative reporting that prevents them from prioritizing addressing public safety.   

Safer San Francisco will change the rules to allow officers to actively pursue suspects of felonies and violent misdemeanors, including retail theft, vehicle theft, and auto burglaries, as long as the pursuit can be done safely. It will also eliminate duplicative and excessive reporting requirements to help free up officers to get them back on the street.  It will also clarify the officers can use technological solutions like body worn cameras to record incident information, instead of having to go back to the district station to fill out paperwork.  

Reforming Police Commission Practices  

Right now, the majority of the Police Commission governs by ideology, rather than putting the interests of public safety or policing best practices first. They micromanage the Department and are adversarial to policy solutions supported by community safety leaders.  

Safer San Francisco will require that any changes the Police Commission wants to make involves engaging with local merchants, neighborhoods leaders, and experts like retired peace officers who understand the day-to-day challenges and impacts of their decisions and what real-life conditions require of police officers. The measure will prevent the Police Commission from micromanaging the Chief of Police, and ensure all new policies put in place do not require more than 20% of an officer’s total on-duty time be spent on administrative duties.