Heard it all before! Woke San Francisco Mayor London Breed AGAIN pledges to crack down on city’s rampant public drug taking this time with the help of police months after she opened ‘drug market’ blamed for city’s crisis
- Mayor London Breed has announced a new crackdown on SF’s drug problem
- New tougher policies to be implemented by police and law enforcement
- SF officials announced increase in arrests, seizures and felony charges
- Policies are departure from previous ‘soft touch’ approach and ‘drug markets’
San Francisco Mayor London Breed has signaled a U-turn in her approach to the city’s rampant drug taking when pledging once again to crackdown on the problem – this time by turning to the police.
Under Breed’s ‘soft touch’ policies that have included open-air drug markets where people can shoot up ‘without anyone going to jail’, San Francisco has seen a surge in open-air drugtaking, with nearly 1,700 fatal overdoses since the start of 2020.
This time, Breed was joined by the top brass of San Francisco law enforcement as she again promised to get tough on drug dealing and ‘unacceptable’ public drug use at a Wednesday press conference at San Francisco police headquarters.
On the podium next to her was Police Chief William Scott and Breed-appointees District Attorney Brooke Jenkins, and District Six Supervisor Matt Dorsey, who are both fighting to keep their seats in upcoming November elections.
Breed appointed Jenkins after the previous district attorney, Chesa Boudin, was recalled in June for ‘not being tough enough on drug dealers’, and she appointed former police spokesperson Dorsey in May.
The officials were keen to emphasize an uptick in drug seizures in the long-suffering Tenderloin neighborhood, and drug arrests and felony narcotics charges across the city in the three months since Jenkins took charge.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed has once again declared she will crackdown on the city’s rampant drug crisis
Breed’s new approach involves working much closer with the police department (pictured right: Police Chief William Scott) and the DA’s office (pictured left: District Attorney Brooke Jenkins) to enforce tougher policies on drug dealers and drug users
A homeless man injects fentanyl into his friend’s armpit, due to a lack of usable veins, as people walk by near City Hall on Saturday
Drug-related incidents have been rampant in San Francisco in recent years, save for a predictable dip during the Coronavirus pandemic, with much of it blamed on old DA Chesa Boudin, who was recalled in June. The spike in July 2022 has been attributed to a federal grant the police department got to tackle drug crime in the Tenderloin neighborhood
She also mentioned how the city’s drug epidemic has touched her personally, as her younger sister died of a drug overdose at the age of 25.
Breed had made a made a strident speech last December declaring an official state of emergency in the Tenderloin and promising to crackdown on the ‘bulls*** destroying the city.’
But the intervening ten months have seen policies brought in which have included trialing the infamous taxpayer-funded ‘open-air drug markets’, which were shuttered in June.
Other soft-touch policies have included electronically-tagging users and having police officers track them down and confiscate their drugs if they wander into known drug-dealing areas.
When she was asked what would be different under the new policies compared to last December, Breed pointed to an increase in enforcement, including boosting the police budget and hiring a further 200 officers.
She also said that the city has expanded the number of treatment beds by hundreds on top of the 2,200 already available, and highlighted expanded alternative response teams and safety ambassadors.
The mayor and law enforcement also promised to come down harder on not just drug dealers but also drug users who refuse to accept public services to help them. The criminal justice system will also provide treatment options, they added.
A homeless woman smokes crack with two others in the Tenderloin on Friday
A homeless woman smokes crack in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco
Homeless drug addicts smoke fentanyl on the street near City Hall on Friday
‘We need to firmly establish what is acceptable conduct on our streets and in our public spaces,’ Breed said.
‘San Francisco has to draw a firm line at behaviors that harm, that injure and cost neighborhoods peace of mind, everyday safety and quality of life.’
The city must be more aggressive with enforcement against drug dealing and violence, she said.
‘Selling drugs is not legal,’ she continued. ‘Using drugs out in the open is completely unacceptable. So, yes, public health is a part of this enforcement effort, but we have to be moving together in the same direction.’
The police chief showed that arrests for drug sales and possession increased 72 per cent from July to September compared with the same period last, with a total of 266 compared with 163. In Tenderloin the seizure rate more than doubled.
Jenkins was formerly a prosecutor under her recalled boss Boudin but quit last year and has now replaced her. She has announced a range of new hardline policies that diverge from her old boss, whom she slammed for not being tough enough on drug dealers.
The new DA has a similar charging rate to Boudin, at 62 per cent, but she said the difference has been that has charged 85 per cent of felony felony narcotics cases, nearly double the rate under Boudin.
Jenkins also pulled back more than 30 plea offers for alleged fentanyl dealers under Boudin and she has also introduced the possibility of murder charges for dealers who sell drugs that result in lethal overdoses.
Dealers could selling near schools would also face harsher punishment.
A homeless man injects fentanyl into his arm in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco
Homeless drug addicts take over a city bus stop in front of the Asian Art Museum as people who are waiting for the bus wait in the background in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco
A homeless drug addict shows bruises and scars on his swollen legs from drug use in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco
A homeless drug addict injects fentanyl into his arm near City Hall on Friday
London Breed’s tragic younger sister
London Breed’s younger sister died of a drug overdose in San Francisco in 2006.
The tragedy happened the day before she turned 26.
‘I lost a sister to a drug overdose. No, it was not fentanyl, but I did lose a sister in this city,’ an emotional Breed said.
‘She was my younger sister.’
Her brother is also serving a 44-year prison sentence for manslaughter and armed robbery in 2000.
Boudin’s practice of sending dealers caught with up to 100 grams of fentanyl to the services-focused Community Justice Center has been stopped and users of the Center with at least five citations will have their charges added up.
Overall, the promise of a firmer hand and more carrot than stick is likely to be welcome news to San Franciscans who are fed up with crime and harassment.
But critics such as Public Defender Mano Raju have accused Jenkins and Breed of returning to the failed ‘war on drugs’, which did not reduce overdose deaths.
Raju said in a statement that the ‘heavy focus on relying on police and prosecutions to arrest and cage our way out of a public health crisis remains in direct conflict with decades of social and scientific data which indicates otherwise.’
Scott said that officers would still take a ‘harm reduction’ approach first with users. But he said that ‘we can’t just arrest dealers and then leave the people who are buying drugs alone to do as they please and think this is going to get better.’
‘That doesn’t mean that people who are addicted get a free pass,’ he said. ‘Our job is to take away all of the excuses about why they can’t and won’t seek help, and then when they don’t, that’s when enforcement comes into play.’
Civil rights attorney Joe Alioto Veronese, one of Jenkin’s opponents in the upcoming election, called the press conference a political stunt.
Veronese told The San Francisco Chronicle the mayor ‘paraded her two candidates’ right before ballots are sent out ‘on an issue that is very important to San Francisco and that she’s frankly failing San Francisco on.’
The infiltration of fentanyl to the US narcotics market in the mid-to-late 2010s saw a spike in accidental drug overdose deaths.
The opioid, which is manufactured synthetically and added to other drugs, can be 50 times stronger than heroin. Just 2mg can be deadly.
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