Mayor London Breed announced an emergency police intervention on Tuesday in the Tenderloin, one of the progressive city's most crime-ridden neighborhoods, as part of a public safety blitz that includes crackdowns on drug dealers and an open-air black market.
The move is a radical shift from current policies in one of the country's most liberal zip codes that often sees lawbreakers never held accountable for their actions.
"We are a city that prides ourselves on second chances and rehabilitation," she said. "But we're not a city where anything goes. Our compassion should not be mistaken for weakness or indifference."
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Breed added she has secured emergency police funding to ensure the city has the resources "to combat major safety problems over the next several months." She said the city will amend its "surveillance ordinance so law enforcement can prevent and interrupt crime in real time — something they're effectively barred from doing now — to better protect our homes and businesses."
The mayor's comments come as the long-troubled area struggles with widespread drug dealing amid a surge in fatal overdoses of fentanyl. Breed said authorities had already confiscated more than 23 kilos of the "catastrophic killer that is fueling the crisis," which is about four times more than last year.
She has also called out a spike in gun violence in the West Coast city.
"The commitment I have made to the people of the [Tenderloin] is that we will not just increase the resources needed for public health, community engagement, and economic development. We will also devote the law enforcement personnel and attention that they have asked for and that is required to end the culture of tolerance or illegal, unhealthy, and unsafe behavior," she said.
Breed's crackdown on crime also includes fixing damaged utilities and adding temporary lighting in key areas to make the streets safer. In addition, authorities have teamed up to do felony warrants sweeps, which have already led to the arrests of 23 individuals with outstanding arrest warrants.
"I appreciate the hard work that our police officers and sheriff's deputies are putting in, as are all our front-line workers," she said. "Now, it's critical that our entire criminal justice system holds these individuals accountable when arrests are made. We need everyone to get on board, not just cops and front-line workers but prosecutors and the courts as well."
“All San Franciscans deserve to feel safe in their city,” Breed wrote in a blog ahead of the press conference. “No matter where they live — Noe Valley, the Bayview, out on the Avenues, or in the heart of the Tenderloin. And the truth is, right now, people aren’t feeling safe — not safe enough, anyway — all over the city.”
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In November alone, there were six shootings, 20 drug arrests, and 16 assaults and batteries in the 50-square block Tenderloin neighborhood.
Breed's multi-step plan, led by the Department of Emergency Management, is supposed to be a two- to three-month intervention that officials hope will lead to more sustainable changes.