San Francisco’s Mayor Eyes Both Police Financing and Socialism in Fundraising Campaign

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A woman posing.

SF Mayor London Breed

Mayor London Breed held a press conference on Tuesday, March 7 to declare San Francisco screwed if the police department doesn’t receive an additional $27.6 million. She told an audience in the Tenderloin that, without that money, San Francisco will be “absolutely terrible.” But the San Francisco Police Department just received roughly $50 million in this year’s budget, and additional unrestricted money puts the Board of Supervisors in an awkward position with constituents. The San Francisco Examiner reports Aaron Peskin, president of the Board of Supervisors, replied to Breed’s demand by wondering what happened to that extra $50 million so early into the year. “We have an obligation to the taxpayers to ask those questions,” Peskin says.

What’s important to note is Breed’s current agreement with the San Francisco Police Officers Association, an $84 million negotiation that the union has already approved. The proposed agreement increases police salaries by three percent — Axios writes the police department currently pays officers $103,116 and under this agreement that would increase to $114,201 in three years. New officers would also receive a one-time $600 payment upon employment. There’s a great deal of pressure on the mayor from the public union to make this influx happen.

Yet this proposal doesn’t solve the real issue San Franciscans face: an alleged dearth of police officers and emergency responders. An internal presentation from the SFPD even points out that recent budget issues resulted in a lack of roles in “Crime Lab, Fiscal, Technology, Body Worn Cameras, Crime Analysis, Policy, Reform Auditing.” How will giving current officers more money bolster these other critical community roles, or increase on-duty officer presence? Speaking to the San Francisco Standard, District 4 Supervisor Joel Engardio says only three or four police officers can be found throughout his area at any given moment. This labor agreement and its cozy budget increase won’t add security, though that handful of officers may now be able to afford a home on the city’s west side. If they pinch pennies and pray, that is.

Breed is on a campaign to raise money for more worthwhile efforts that deserve attention. The mayor is looking for funds for a $23.6 million contract extension with second-chance nonprofit Urban Alchemy and a $13.2 million contract with the San Francisco Tourism Improvement District Management Corporation; each deal would keep the green-and orange-vested attendants, respectively, in the greater Downtown area.

Since the SFPD dashboard itself says that the city saw an overwhelming reduction in crime from January 2022 to December 2022, one has to wonder where the issue really lies? In Jay Arena’s “Only a Class Politics Can Save Us From Police Violence and Fascism,” the scholar writes one solution for modern policing lies in “a mass direct-government program of employment in public works and public services.” If Mayor Breed secures money for these Downtown nonprofits, she’ll be doing her part to make the investment Arena recommends happen in her Baghdad by the Bay. On this, Breed and the emergent socialist left agree.   

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Paolo Bicchieri

Paolo Bicchieri

Paolo Bicchieri (he/they) is a writer living on the coast. He's a reporter for Eater SF and the author of three books of fiction and one book of poetry.