Mark Farrell pledges to fire SFPD chief if elected mayor

Former San Francisco Mayor Mark Farrell is running for his old job. This week, Farrell filed paperwork with the Department of Elections to challenge Mayor London Breed. He says Mayor Breed has failed San Francisco. 

In addition, Farrell, who was appointed mayor in 2018 following the death of Mayor Ed Lee, said one of the first things he would do if elected, would be to fire San Francisco's Chief of Police Bill Scott. 

At a Tuesday news conference, where he announced that he's running for mayor, Farrell, who served on the Board of Supervisors for District 2, took a shot at the mayor. 

"Over the past five years, I have watched our city crumble." He touched on the concerns of public safety, echoing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis's failed presidential campaign video by saying the conditions of the streets have never been worse. "Our local economy is broken and we have literally become the butt of jokes across the country and abroad." 

Farrell, who served six months in his interim position, appeared on KTVU in his first television appearance since announcing his candidacy. He elaborated on his stance, saying his policies could not be more different from the mayor's and some of the other candidates. 

Mark Farrell, former mayor of San Francisco, announces his candidacy to run as the citys mayor in 2024. 

Farrell joins a crowded field of candidates that notably includes incumbent Mayor Breed, District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safai, and philanthropist and former Tipping Point Community CEO Daniel Lurie

Farrell said he's bringing seven and a half years of effective leadership both as a supervisor and as mayor to the table. "During that time, we grew our police force. As mayor, I cleared out all of our tent encampments." He clarified by saying "large tent encampments." The measuring stick he's using to define large was not made clear. 

Doubling down when asked for specifics, Farrell said he'd clear homeless encampments within his first year of being in office. 

The candidate said he's proposing a 24/7 centralized intake center. "It's been replicated in many cities across the country. We will do it here in San Francisco." Without specifics, he said the centers he proposes would get the homeless into shelter and into services they need. 

Farrell's platform includes a plan to detain anyone who has been administered the opioid overdose reversal medication – Narcan – at least two times, to be put on a mandatory 72-hour hold at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. Farrell claimed this would be allowed under state law. He did not elaborate on how the city would track how many times its citizens were administered Narcan.  

"We have as the city of San Francisco, absolutely failed to address the drug crisis on our streets," said Farrell. "It is unacceptable to continue to allow individuals at the volume that we have seen to die on the streets of San Francisco." He said the drug crisis spills out onto the sidewalks and affects everyone when the sidewalks should be for everyone. 

Lurie seemed to fire back at Farrell. In a statement, Lurie said Farrell voted with Breed 95% of the time, calling the two candidates two sides of the same coin. He characterized them both as City Hall insiders. 

Farrell claimed that in the past five years, San Francisco's police department lost over 500 officers, and that the mayor has stripped money from the police budget and continues to call for additional cuts. "Our police force was over 2,300 police officers. Today, that's just over 1,800 officers."

He explained why he'd fire Chief Scott. 

"What we need right now is a different type of leader at the top of our police department." Farrell said he wants a chief who will fight for budget dollars so that communities are safe. He alluded to recruiting officers from across the Bay Area. 

SFPD defended its chief, saying that Scott has been at the helm of the department through some challenging times in the past seven years, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the widespread racial reckoning experienced in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd. The department characterized this time as a "policing crisis." 

SFPD in a statement said lawmakers have looked at their department as a national model for 21st-century policing, due in part to reforms Scott has put into place that have helped build trust with communities.  

"Chief Scott has devoted resources to ensure violent crime remains far below the rates of other cities the size of San Francisco," SFPD's statement read. During Scott's tenure, they said city's homicide rate has fallen to its lowest point since 1963. The department also said property crime had been a problem long before Scott became chief, but that he continues to address this type of crime and is seeing some success. 

The department said SFPD's staffing challenges mirror the challenges of other police departments around the country. However, through a new contract, SFPD's officers are among the highest paid in the nation. The department said they are on track to graduate more recruits from its academy this year than in the last six years. 

Farrell said he's looking to be mayor for all and to challenge the status quo. 


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