250 more police officers, Tasers in SF mayor's 2-year, budget proposal

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) The San Francisco Police Department could see major changes in the coming years, as Mayor Mark Farrell announced on Tuesday a two-year budget proposal with more than $34 million going toward public safety investments. 

According to the plan, the $34.2 million in funding would go toward hiring of an additional 250 sworn police personnel over the next four years, supporting ongoing police reforms and the purchase of new equipment and vehicles.

"This budget proposal will provide our Police Department with the resources it needs to succeed while we work with our communities to ensure a collaborative, cooperative approach to public safety," Farrell said in a statement.

As part of the hiring plan, 130 new officers are already set to enter the police academy in the next fiscal year. The extra officers will provide increased opportunities for promotions within the department, 
including 20 sergeant and two lieutenant positions that will be added to the 
command roster.

The funding will also go toward shifting highly trained civilians into positions typically held by sworn officers, allowing for the department to redeploy the sworn members.

With more officers available, the department hopes to increase citywide foot patrols, add investigation teams to stations to allow for staffing everyday, including weekends, and expand the department's burglary and serial crime units.

The new hires will also help support the Healthy Streets Operation Center, a response program made up of different city agencies responding to homelessness, behavioral health issues and drug use incidents on the city's streets, according to the mayor's office.

"This commitment from Mayor Farrell will enable and empower the hardworking men and women of the San Francisco Police Department to better address the evolving public safety needs of our city," Police Chief William Scott said in a statement.

"By providing for the additional deployment of 250 sworn members, funding for the much-needed equipment and other crime reduction efforts, we can continue to meet the challenges facing San Francisco and advance our mission of providing safety with respect for all in our city," Scott said.

In addition to the hiring plan, $7.5 million of the budget will go toward the purchase of 130 new police vehicles, $1.7 will go toward police reform efforts and community engagement initiatives. Also, $3 million will go toward obtaining new Tasers.

In March, the city's Police Commission voted to approve a policy for the use of Tasers, which could be implemented by the end of the year.

The police reform efforts are part of set of 272 recommendations provided by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2016, involving use-of-force.

"For decades, the SFPD has been understaffed, leaving them without the ability to combat crime and the related social issues due to the lack of personnel and the need for the current officers to respond to calls for service," Police Commission President Thomas Mazzucco said in a statement. 

"Strategic and fair policing require highly trained officers with the necessary equipment to address the issues impacting our city and making our streets safe for our residents and visitors," he said.