New San Francisco legislation would allow sheriff's deputies to provide retail security

New legislation was proposed in San Francisco to allow sheriff's deputies to work as security guards so that businesses can stave off shoplifting. 

San Francisco Chronicle reported Supervisor Ahsha Safaí introduced the legislation on Tuesday. The deputies would be off duty from the department while conducting these moonlighting efforts. And they wouldn't be paid by the city, instead they'd be on the payroll of private-owned businesses or commercial business districts for the overtime.

San Francisco police officers are already allowed to work in this manner under what's called a 10B program. The supervisor's proposal would extend the program to the sheriff's office, through a 10A administrative amendment to the city's code.

Interestingly enough, the Chronicle reports while in this role, deputies would still wear their sheriff's deputy outfits and carry their firearms and other department-issued equipment. The supervisor told the paper that while on security duty, the hired deputies can still make arrests, follow suspects out of the store and even out of state, if need be.

Supervisor Safaí, who joined KTVU's The 7 on Tuesday, said he personally witnessed his local Walgreens "being ransacked," which led to a hearing at City Hall followed by his proposal. He compared the thefts at places like Bloomingdale's to a "bank robbery" and said this kind of crime "terrorizes front line workers."

Last week San Francisco's mayor and police chief announced a more coordinated effort to combat the highly-documented problem of brazen thefts from high-end Union Square stores to the stealing of every day necessities at places like Walgreens

Videos of rampant shoplifting have sparked the ire of those watching on the web and on social media, and has led to the issue being politicized, but the Chronicle reports retail crime in San Francisco is actually down in 2021 compared to pre-pandemic times.  

San Francisco ranked fifth among top 10 cities around the country when it comes to organized retail crime, according to the National Retail Federation, a special interest group whose boardmembers are tied to major retailers like Macy's and Walmart. 

Nonetheless, over the span of five years, Walgreens has closed 17 of its San Francisco stores and blamed shoplifting as the driving factor.

As Mission Local reported earlier this year, communities – including seniors, low-income residents and those with disabilities – have relied on these types of pharmacies and their abundance of locations as a lifeline for things like prescriptions. Not to mention, they were instrumental in providing COVID-19 vaccine shots during a global pandemic. 

A petition against the closures earlier this year had pointed out Walgreens corp., "has an annual revenue of around $139.5 billion," and can afford to keep its stores open.