Mayor London Breed proposes $27 million in funding to address police staffing shortages

Overtime funding will help continue needed police coverage, while City implements long-term recruitment and retention strategies
February 14, 2023

San Francisco, CA – Today Mayor London N. Breed will introduce a $27.6 million budget supplemental to help fund police overtime caused by the severe police staffing shortage. The supplemental will ensure that police officers are able to continue to respond to the basic needs and priority concerns facing the City. The supplemental is co-sponsored by Supervisors Catherine Stefani, Rafael Mandelman, Matt Dorsey, and Joel Engardio.  

Major drivers of overtime in the last year have been backfilling staffing shortages, as well as priority initiatives like San Francisco’s tourism deployments, Tenderloin operations, and violence reduction work. The Budget Supplemental will ensure that this work and other critical work around arrests and investigations can continue. Importantly, this supplemental prevents mandated service cuts and a hiring freeze. If this supplemental does not pass, the Controller will be required to impose a hiring and overtime freeze through the end of June, which will significantly reduce policing levels across the City.  

Between 2021 and 2022, the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) saw a 121% increase in total overtime to support overtime backfill caused by critically low staffing shortages and ramped up police presence in key areas like Union Square, the Tenderloin, and throughout Downtown and commercial corridors. The ability to utilize overtime provided sufficient resources to investigate and curtail drug dealing and illegal use of narcotics, reduce gun violence, homicides, and violent crimes.  

Funding will also help continue to support SFPD Community Ambassadors, which are civilian retired sworn members of the Police force who supplement foot beat patrol presence in business and commercial corridors. In a time of staffing shortages, these retired officers are essential to ongoing safety efforts in areas like Union Square and neighborhoods across the City, like the Castro, West Portal, Sunset, and Fillmore.     

The Mayor is also introducing a companion piece of legislation that provides nearly $200,000 supplemental funding for three additional prosecutors in the District Attorney’s Office who will focus on open air drug dealing. These positions will complement the Mayor and SFPD’s current efforts to increase enforcement of open-air drug dealing and ensure the District Attorney’s Office has the resources needed to successfully investigate and prosecute individuals who are causing harm to our communities.  

“We have been working hard to address serious public safety challenges in San Francisco, but we need our officers out on the street,” said Mayor London Breed. “While we are working on strategies to address our staffing shortages, we can’t wait to ensure our officers are able to provide the basic services our residents deserve and that our prosecutors can hold drug dealers and repeat offenders accountable. We need officers responding to break-ins, breaking up the open-air drug dealing in the Tenderloin, and addressing the shootings and violent crimes in our neighborhoods. This funding is essential for keeping our City safe.”  

Sworn staffing levels have fallen significantly in the last three years. Currently, San Francisco has 340 fewer officers than in 2019 and is 541 below the staffing analysis recommended level. Many more are eligible for retirement. Consequently, SFPD has exceeded overtime to fill this staffing gap. This fiscal year, sworn officers have already worked over 380,000 hours of overtime compared to 425,000 hours for the entire previous fiscal year. This expanded overtime has reaped immediate benefits and the ability to respond to over 34,000 calls for service.   

In the last budget, Mayor Breed funded recruitment and retention bonuses as part of an effort to stop attrition and fill academy classes.   

“The SFPD – and police agencies nationwide –are facing a staffing crisis that does not relieve us of our duty to protect the people of San Francisco,” said San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott. “While the Department actively plans for long-term hiring solutions, overtime is a necessary short-term intervention that will better meet calls for service workload demands, and the multifaceted service needs of public safety in our city. I want thank Mayor Breed for her leadership and look forward to working collaboratively with our elected officials to ensure our department receives this critical financial assistance.”  

“The supplemental that the Mayor is proposing is an important step in addressing the public safety challenges our city is facing due to the significant staffing crisis that the SFPD is facing, said District Attorney Brooke Jenkins.  “Providing additional support to my office for narcotics prosecutions will compliment this effort and allow for more resources to disrupt open-air drug dealing and prosecute cases against suspected drug dealers.”  

“A clean and safe downtown is critical to our economic recovery. With an overworked and chronically understaffed police force, this supplemental is necessary and the first in a series of actions we must take in order to ensure that we have enough officers on our streets to meet the demand for service,” said District 2 Supervisor Catherine Stefani. “As Chair of the Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee, I will continue to prioritize police staffing issues, including how to recruit and retain officers.”  

"This supplemental appropriation will allow SFPD operations to continue uninterrupted for the remainder of the current fiscal year and is critical to maintaining public safety,” said District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman. “I am committed to working with the Mayor and my colleagues on the Board's Budget Committee to address SFPD's staffing crisis, which threatens the City's ability to provide core public services."   

“San Francisco’s police understaffing crisis is worse than anything I’ve seen in 30 years, and the number of officers currently eligible to retire makes our current crisis even more alarming,” said District 6 Supervisor Matt Dorsey. “This budget supplemental will help our police department deliver necessary services with current staffing levels, and I’m happy to support it. At the same time, relying on overtime is needlessly expensive and can only be a temporary solution to a problem we need to fix for the long term. The City must incentivize recruitment with bonus matching and other tools to make real progress toward a fully staffed police department.”  

“The police station for the Sunset has lost half of its officers since 2020. When officers get sick or injured others have to step up and work overtime. We can’t go a night without officers, that’s why overtime funding is essential along with hiring retired officers to walk beats as ambassadors. For the long term, we must invest in our police department so it can retain officers and recruit more,” said District 4 Supervisor Joel Engardio. “We must change the narrative about police in San Francisco. Our officers are diverse and committed to serving at the highest standard. Our police department is a model of reform and has been praised by the California Department of Justice for already implementing more than 90 percent of needed reforms. We need to let people know that it is honorable to be an officer in San Francisco so we can attract more applicants to join the police academy.”  

“I came to this country for a better life for myself and my children’s 20 years ago,” said Azalina Eusope, owner and operator of Azalina’s in the Tenderloin. “I have been running my business for 12 years and am still considered a low-income minority business owner. I pay many different taxes, fees, and rent, and by allowing open air drug dealing the City is giving permission for a dangerous and aggressive behavior that causes fear and prevents people from coming to support businesses like mine in the Tenderloin. I support the Mayor’s proposal and her commitment to making sure the police having the resources to stop the drug dealing and make the Tenderloin safer in the long-term.”    

“Safety and security is the number one concern of our members at the Union Square Alliance and for local and international visitors to the area," said Marisa Rodriguez, CEO for the Union Square Alliance. "We fully support Mayor Breed's urgent call for an increase in the San Francisco Police Supplemental budget. Until we can get our SFPD back to full staffing, it is crucial to fund police overtime. This is not a 'nice to have'. For us, and our community, it's a 'must have', and critical for the recovery of our economic core.”  

The Budget Funding Supplemental will go before the Budget Committee of the Board of Supervisors, after which it would head to the full Board of Supervisors for a vote.