Mirkarimi foot patrol legislation approved
Chief wants beat assignment flexibility
District 5 Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi moments after San Francisco
Board of Supervisors passed pilot program legislation he sponsored
requiring mandatory assignment of walking police foot patrols
in neighbourhoods most impacted by violent crime.
The program begins January 1, 2007.
By Emmet Berg, Bay City News Service
October 17, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - Mapping out San Francisco neighborhoods
where daily foot patrols will become mandatory on Jan. 1 may handcuff
the police department's ability to respond to crime outside those
zones, Chief Heather Fong said today.
"It comes down to bodies," said Fong at City Hall.
"I support the legislation, but I am still concerned about
a lack of flexibility in the prospective beats."
Chief Heather Fong
Fong asked, "What if an officer is on foot patrol and there's
an incident in an area outside the bounds of the prospective beats?
This is something we should let captains and watch commanders
decide at each precinct."
After months of discussion, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors
voted 8-3 today to push ahead with the new policy. It requires
at least one officer, on at least two different times in the day,
to conduct patrols on foot at neighborhoods located within eight
police precincts. Many of those areas have seen a spike in violent
Supervisors Michaela Alioto-Pier, Sean Elsbernd and Aaron Peskin
District 2 Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier
District 7 Supervisor Sean Elsbernd
District 3 Supervisor and Board President Aaron Peskin
Elsbernd told board members he was fundamentally against "the
Board of Supervisors dictating to a paramilitary organization
how it should deploy its troops."
But a majority of supervisors voted yes, exemplified by Supervisor
Chris Daly, who said mandating foot patrols would be a "wildly
popular program with very little downside."
District 6 Supervisor Chris Daly
Supervisors separately voted 6-5 to consider expanding the program
to all 10 police precincts before its rollout on Jan. 1.
Originally the foot patrol plan was intended to take effect within
30 days of enactment, but the delay was written in to give police
time to make new hires.
In comments before the board, Fong said it was "new bodies
that ultimately will be able to advance the goals of the legislation."
Fong said the department budget this year allowed for hiring
of 18 police service aides to perform functions at police stations
that are now done by uniformed officers. The civilian aides don't
need to attend police academies and their hiring will free up
more patrol officers, she said.
The department also expects to hire dozens of new recruits from
police academy classes graduating in November and January. The
academy recruits won't be thrown into solo foot patrols, Fong
said. After graduating from the academy, recruits undergo field
training and a year's probation before they can patrol on their
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