SAN FRANCISCO - With retail theft an ongoing problem in San Francisco, city leaders Tuesday announced a new proposal aimed at deterring it.
Under the proposal, now approved by the SF Board of Supervisors, sheriff's deputies may now voluntarily work overtime providing security at stores and malls, paid for by the private businesses.
Supervisors approved the legislation 7-3, with supervisors Hillary Ronen, Dean Preston, and Shamann Walton voting against it.
"We believe it will provide an additional spoke in the wheel of justice to deal with what is plaguing our city right now," says Supervisor Ahsha Safai, who anchored the legislation. He said it will help meet the demand for increased security at businesses in response to a recent wave of smash-and-grab robberies in the Bay Area.
Last month, dozens of looters ransacked stores in Union Square. Police have arrested nine.
"We have training as police officers. And there would be a period where we have people trained for crimes and encounters specific to retail theft," said SF Sheriff Paul Miyamoto.
One deputy told KTVU he is more than willing to sign up.
"If you have the opportunity to keep the people in San Francisco safe, that kind of goes with everything we do," said Deputy Sheriff Jordan Lologo.
The deputies will be stationed inside certain stores.
"Thirty-seven percent of our retail sales is from Union Square and Fisherman's Wharf. So there will be an emphasis on Union Square. But every part of San Francisco, they will be available," said Safai.
"The fact of the matter is the San Francisco Police Department was unable to meet the demand for what was asked for us. And now we have partners from the SF Sheriff's Department," said Police Chief Bill Scott.
Police officers have been providing private security for years.
The board of supervisors discussed the proposal of granting the same leeway to deputies.
"We are not looking to make a lot of arrests. We are looking to prevent people from committing the crime in the first place just by being there," said Miyamoto.
The deputies are expected to be ready to go by March.
Bay City News contributed to this report.