Since 2013, the No New SF Jail Coalition has been working to end criminalization and dismantle the sheriff’s power and control in SF. The vote to close 850 Bryant by November of this year was a big win, and now it’s time to move even more money to the life-affirming resources and infrastructure our communities actually need to create true safety, security, health, sustainability and collective well-being.
For years, the City of San Francisco has increased its spending and resources to policing. Now with more public pressure and calls to cut funds for policing and reallocate these resources to our communities, Mayor Breed has announced a few budget cuts, but they are simply not enough. The Mayor’s current budget and proposed cuts to the Sheriff Dept are very insignificant compared to proposed reductions to other city departments, many of which provide the programs and spaces our city needs to thrive: 5.7% compared to about 11.3% for the SF Public Library, 16% for the Dept of Children, Youth & Families, and 31% for Public Works. This follows a harmful trend in San Francisco leadership of prioritizing criminalization, policing and jailing at the expense of our communities. Last year for instance, the average total compensation for a Deputy Sheriff was $210,000 — the equivalent of more than 2 teachers in the city.
Furthermore, the proposed cuts for the Sheriff’s Department exploit the much-needed and already mandated closure of 850 Bryant, and these cuts don’t reflect the real change we need in our city’s budget. Through jailing and policing, the Sheriff’s Depart perpetuates anti-Blackness and white supremacy in SF and separates families, snatching our people away and caging our loved ones in jails where social distancing is impossible during a global health crisis.
The people are asking for fundamental, significant shifts in the way we view and protect our safety; the call to defund the police continues to grow and amplify. We need to show the legislators policing is not the answer. We can’t reform the Sheriff’s Department or SFPD and get different results. The only way to stop police violence is to reduce the number of cages and cops in our city and county. Now is the time to make sure the money, resources and city-focus is moved toward our communities.