SFPD make their case for staffing increase before board of supervisors' committee

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors Public Safety & Neighborhood Committee held a hearing Thursday for members of the police to discuss a report that shows there is a staffing shortage in the department.

One member of San Francisco Police Department told the board that responding to incidents is siphoning precious minutes away from other requirement duties that sworn officers need to carry out daily.

"We want to be at events, we want to be engaging with the community and if we’re moving from call to call, there is no time for that," said SFPD Commander Nicole Jones.

Currently, there are 2,182 sworn and civilian staff members of the force, but the report indicates that an additional 764 people are needed to properly keep the streets safe.

"Staffing is very important because we’re there to support the community," said Tommy Tunson, a retired police chief.

Tunson, who is also a professor of criminal justice at Bakersfield College, told us that the two key issues at play when it comes to staffing, which are calls for service and a city’s population.

"If there are insufficient officers, you’ll hear things like it takes them forever to get there. They're never around when you need them," he said.

During public comment, one San Francisco resident supporting the staff increase shared her harrowing run-ins with crime.

"I’ve been chased outside of my place of employment by a woman not in her right state of mind. I have been spat on and urinated on. I’ve had food and used needles thrown at me, and I’ve had my car broken into, all in broad daylight," said an unidentified San Francisco resident during public comment.

But there were opponents among the city workers and members of the business community who urged the board to approve a staffing increase.

"If the police stopped engaging in racial biased, no safety-related traffic stops, known as pretextual stops, SFPD would also have more resources to respond to more severe situations," said another unidentified caller in a public comment to the board.

For Tunson, staffing is more than just officers on the streets, but also those who work behind the scene to prevent crimes before they happen.

"How about our community-based policing or transformational policing that we’re trying to get across so that we have fewer calls for service based on proactive community engagement."

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The report also states that over the last five years, an average of 100 active sworn members have left the department through retirement, resignation, and termination

SFPD says it plans to start a retention unit to get employees eligible to retire to stick around and others from leaving to work for our cities.

2021 Staffing Analysis of the San Francisco Police Department