No New SF Jail Coalition & Defund SFPD Now Call on Supervisors to Push for Divesting

On July 12, 2021, the No New SF Jail Coalition and Defund SFPD Now to the Board of Supervisors urging them to keep working to divest from the San Francisco Police Department and the Sheriff’s Office. The text of the letter is reproduced below:

San Francisco Board of Supervisors
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
City Hall, Room 244
San Francisco, CA 94102

RE: SFPD and Sheriff budgets

Dear Supervisors,

Last year, San Francisco made a long-overdue public commitment to confront the inherently violent nature of policing, in particular as manifested in its Police and Sheriff departments, and instead investing in the life affirming care that creates real public safety for all. We know too well that the prison industrial complex will not address the underlying causes of crime and violence and that policing and incarceration in our city continues to produce deeply racist and anti-Black outcomes that tear families apart and traumatize our most vulnerable neighbors.

Yet despite this clear commitment, the Budget and Appropriations Committee voted on June 29, 2021 to forward the Mayor’s proposed San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) and Sheriff’s Department budgets for the upcoming two fiscal years (through June 2023) substantially unchanged to the full Board of Supervisors for approval. The budgets of these two departments renege on the City’s well-publicized promises last year to divert funds away from policing and incarceration, and invests heavily in carceral departments. In fact, the Dreamkeeper Initiative which was called to divert $120 million between FY 21 and FY 22 from law enforcement to San Francisco’s Black community is no longer even actually funded from cuts to law enforcement.

As it stands, the budget passed out of the Budget and Appropriations Committee increases General Fund support for the SFPD budget by $15 million over the current FY21 budget. The total SFPD budget would also grow substantially in FY23, with an additional $26 million over the proposed FY22 budget. The Sheriff budget would increase in both years with no major reductions in staffing levels despite the closure of County Jail #4 last year.

In fact, the total cuts made by the Budget and Appropriations Committee to the Mayor’s proposed SFPD and Sheriff budgets amount to less than $10.5 million over both years, that is a reduction of barely 0.5%. Out of between 4 and 6 academy classes over both years (depending on the size of classes), the Committee only cut approximately 30-35 new positions over both years. This is unacceptable, especially given that investments in alternative response teams that are already or will become operative over the next year warrant at a minimum a corresponding decrease in the number of officers employed by the City.

Yet it is not too late to put San Francisco back on track to fulfill its promise to communities that bear the brunt of police brutality and the injustice of the carceral state perpetuated by this budget. The Board of Supervisors can still amend the Police and Sheriff budgets at its July 13, 2021 meeting and meet the deadline to pass a budget by the end of July.

To this end, we urge you to consider the following at the July 13, 2021 meeting of the full Board of Supervisors:

  1. Motion to amend the budget to cut all new academy classes and the corresponding positions from the SFPD budget, and to place $24 million from the Sheriff budget on Budget and Finance Committee reserve pending allocation to alternative community investments.

ALTERNATIVELY

  1. Motion to separate the SFPD and Sheriff budgets from Appropriations and Salary Ordinances, followed by either rejecting or continuing the severed portions to a later date for consideration of further cuts.

San Francisco cannot afford to ignore its promises to defund the police and redirect money away from carceral systems towards transformative justice. Now more than ever it is important for City leaders and elected officials to stand strong against the harmful and unjust SFPD and Sheriff budgets that will further perpetuate harm against our most vulnerable communities.

In community,

Defund SFPD Now
No New SF Jail Coalition

City Hall Breaks Last Year’s Promise to Divest from Policing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Contact: Allie Curry(415) 617-5218defundsfpdnow@gmail.com

City Hall Breaks Last Year’s Promise To Divest from Policing

San Francisco, CA —  In the wake of the George Floyd protests last year, Mayor London Breed and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors made national headlines for their calls to defund the police in favor of investments in San Francisco’s Black community. Most of the specifics of those promises were deferred to this year’s budget process. Today, however, in a unanimous vote, the Budget and Appropriations Committee advanced a budget that reinstates academy classes that were cut last year, and again fails to refund the community the $24.7 million cost of operating the 850 Bryant jail, which employed about 100 deputies and closed last year. 

“The City has once again abdicated its responsibility to refund the people for the hard-fought closure of the jail at 850 Bryant, an effort driven and supported by 90+ community organizations over 7 years,” said Christine Wei from the No New SF Jail Coalition. “The $24.7 million should be immediately reinvested into the housing, healthcare, and education we need to thrive instead of bankrolling the eviction of vulnerable San Franciscans, creating barriers to accessing needed care, and tearing families apart.”

Today’s proposed budget shows that the City will not honor its promises or listen to the hundreds of people who mobilized against policing during the past year. While the budget partly funds some important programs including a community-led, non-police response to homelessness, the Compassionate Alternative Response Team (CART), it also increases both the San Francisco Police Department and Sheriff’s Department budgets compared to last year. 

“This budget doubles down on our city’s investment in the racist and violent institutions that have never been able to keep us safe. The only way to create real public safety is to reduce the number of interactions between police and our communities and to invest in the life-affirming care needed to prevent harm from occurring in the first place,” said Jamie Chen from DefundSFPDNow. 

###

The No New SF Jail Coalition is a coalition of local organizations, residents, and community members joining together to fight the expansion of imprisonment and criminalization in San Francisco. 
The Defund SFPD Now campaign is a grassroots abolitionist campaign committed to re-imagining public safety by replacing policing and prisons with the life-affirming care needed to support and empower us all.