Newsom foot patrol veto stuns San Francisco
Mayor Gavin Newsom.
File photo: Anti-Gang
By Brent Begin, Bay City News Service
November 3, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - Mayor Gavin Newsom stunned San Francisco
with a late Friday announcement of his veto of legislation that
would have mandated police foot patrols in neighborhoods most
impacted by violent crime, calling the plan a move by politicians
to set public safety policy.
Newsom, along with police Chief Heather Fong, followed up the
veto with their own plan to put an additional 44 officers on walking
beats by the end of the year.
But Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who drafted the plan months ago,
said in a telephone interview today that the mayor's veto was
purely a political move.
"I think it's completely shameful," Mirkarimi said.
"I think the mayor is putting vanity before public safety.
Its immensely disingenuous."
Newsom justified the veto by writing, "I have concluded
that this legislation is the wrong approach to an issue on which
there is wide agreement and actually may threaten public safety."
He added that "it is very dangerous for the Board of Supervisors
to dictate where police officers or for that matter firefighters
Mirkarimi said he wholeheartedly agreed with the mayor's statement
that politicians should not become involved in police policy,
but he said that after working with Fong and Newsom for about
seven months on instituting foot patrols, nothing was happening.
"I never disagreed with the mayor and police chief,"
said Mirkarimi, who first brought up the foot patrol program to
the city's police commission over the summer. "I gave them
well over seven months to do something about it. In fact, they
never thought I would get this far."
But Newsom said today in a statement that the Police Department
has steadily staffed 23 administrative positions with civilians,
which allows for the reassignment of officers to neighborhoods.
He also said police already maintain scores of active foot patrols
throughout the city, most recently averaging 310 officers assigned
per week in 2005.
Fong has objected to the Board of Supervisors resolution on the
grounds that the department is understaffed by almost 300 officers.
"Mayor Newsom has long recognized that foot patrols staffed
by police officers play an important role with enhancing public
safety," Fong said in a statement.
voted 8-3 in favor of the legislation with Supervisors Peskin,
Elsbernd and Alioto-Pier dissenting. On the second reading, Supervisor
McGoldrick was absent from the 7-3 vote.
Newsom needs one supervisor to switch their vote against the
legislation for the veto to be sustained.
Full text of Newsom veto letter, click
Luke Thomas contributed to this report.
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