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Newsom urges $16.5 million spent immediately on violence prevention

Brothers Against Guns director Shawn Richard praises collaboration
as "a first in the City of San Francisco."
Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

By Pat Murphy and Luke Thomas

February 10, 2006

Mayor Newsom today announced an additional $16.5 million immediate funding request for violence prevention.

The supplemental appropriation made possible by rising City revenues would be split almost evenly between hiring new police officers and community services.

San Francisco Supervisor Fiona Ma will introduce the measure before the Board of Supervisors next week.

District 4 Supervisor Fiona Ma to left of Mayor Newsom

"I don't want to wait until the June budget," Newsom reported at an 11:00 a.m. Police Academy press conference.

If approved by supervisors, additional funding would "go immediately...to be invested in our community crime suppression...and crime prevention strategies," stated the mayor.

"We're not just talking about uniformed officers as a solution to crime and violence," Newsom continued.

"We're talking investments so we give people alternatives that they otherwise do not experience in terms of their future."

In addition, the city would put $4 million toward one-time investments such as renovating parks, the Hamilton pool and the Log Cabin Ranch youth adjudication facility. It would also install 20 additional street cameras throughout the city, enhance lighting in public housing developments, and upgrade technology at the district attorney's office.

The city would also invest $4 million in several ongoing civic programs, including the creation of 300 new jobs, the establishment of a youth advisory council, and two different programs aimed specifically at helping those on probation avoid violence.

Ma described the measure as comprehensive.

Ma speaks before Bookmobile Van slated for Western Addition.

"Today we have a comprehensive approach that funds law enforcement and also keeps young people out of our criminal justice system," said the District 4 supervisor.

"Young people will make the right decisions when they have job opportunities and San Francisco will lead the way.

"This approach today makes an equal investment in proven prevention programs, such as 300 more youth jobs, vans that will take kids out of their neighborhoods to participate in community programs, and regular visits by social workers to kids in foster care homes.

"It will also make investments in policing in our neighborhoods.

"I expect that my colleagues will put public safety ahead of politics and support this comprehensive and balanced approach.

Shawn Richard, founder and director of Brothers Against Guns supported that approach.

The City now understands the role of community participation,
said Shawn Richard.

Richard thanked Newsom for city violence reduction efforts.

"First of all let me just say that you are a man of your word, man," Richard began.

"When you first came into office this is what you said you were going to do.

"The community and myself thank you.

"It's good to know that $8 million will be put into the violence prevention arena where we have 300 youth jobs that will be coming from the Park and Rec Department collaborating with YCD and the Omega Boys Club, and different departments that I get so many calls from...

"Bringing everybody together has been one big effort on everybody's part, so we're very happy to know that now the City sees that the community does play a real part on what goes on in the community.

"We're real happy that the focus now has been put on 18 to 25-year-olds because they're out there unemployed, not working and not going to school, education is low, and we see that the City has invested into the education part, the training part, the development part in the young women and men of San Francisco.

"Mayor Newsom we thank you and along with all your staff and your departments heads who have been very active in contacting the community...I'm just happy, man, you got my vote.

"This is a first in this city of San Francisco that this collaboration has ever come about with CBOs (community based organizations) and the (City) departments."

Police Chief Heather Fong embraced prevention efforts and explained new police staffing levels.

San Francisco Police Chief Heather Fong
recognizes need for community services.

"We know and we support the violence prevention efforts because we know in many cases appropriate outreach prior to someone becoming involved in a criminal pattern of behavior or falling in with people who might lead them down a bad path is very, very important and we look forward to working together to refer youth to the various services that will be available," Fong said.

"The visible police presence in our community in a city where the needs are growing on a daily basis are very critical.

"This Academy will once again be an Academy that runs many classes through.

"This year we currently have an Academy Class that is part way through - they will graduate the first week of June.

"In March, with the approval of this supplemental budget, we will be able to start the second Academy Class of this year of 50 new recruit officers.

"In June of this year we will again be able to begin the third class.

"Hiring is step one. It's a 30 to 31 week Academy followed by a 17-week field training program.

"So the sooner we begin the Academy process the sooner we have full fledged sworn officers ready to help in the city streets.

"In addition to that class the mayor has committed to the next Fiscal Year budget, 06-07, of five classes of 50 officers.

"Not only are we looking at increasing the level of staffing in this department to the minimum staffing level, but we are also looking to insure that we are keeping in front of the separations that we anticipate.

"We know that 30 years after the conflicts of the Vietnam War when people came into police organizations, not just San Francisco but across the nation, that people are getting to the point of retirement.

"We must insure that we have the level of staffing to absorb those retirements and do it in a pro-active basis.

"Between now and 2008 we will have 500 officers who have the ability to retire if they choose to, and we hope they will stay around longer, but if they go we need to be prepared."

Fong added that the spike in violence which began in November requires on-going high police presence.

Fong reports additional funding will keep high police presence
in neighborhoods which saw a spike in violence beginning in November.

"In November of this year we significantly enhanced a number of resources at an overtime level in a number of our neighborhoods.

"These were the neighborhoods that we saw the highest levels of violence, the highest levels of homicides. These include the Western Addition and the Park District and in the Northern District. They include the Ingleside and the Sunnydale area. They include Alemany Development, Bayview-Hunters Point area, and parts of the Mission and the Tenderloin Districts.

"The key there is again visible police presence to not only deter but to make contact with those individuals with the guns thinking about committing crimes.

"This has been extremely helpful and very, very successful in adding to the targeted strategy which was already in place.

"This supplemental allows us to continue that enhanced deployment," Fong explained.

Addition funding will be used to bring police technology up to date, she continued.

"Technology in the San Francisco Police Department is at a very basic level," Fong reported.

"It does not have a lot of links between all of the systems...because the current ones we have are over 30 years old.

"These are key components...to being able to look at the patterns of activity whether criminal or in our Early Warning System.

"This funding...will allow us to bring into our department a consultant to look at all of the systems that are currently in place that are not connected, and at the level of staffing that is required...and take all of that and build this team that will support all of the new systems that have to come online in order for us to do our job.

The plan envisions hiring 20 new police inspectors.

"In this supplemental budget it will allow me to appoint 20 additional inspectors to be assigned to our Investigations Bureau.

"That will allow veteran inspectors to move to other units so that this department can move in the direction of setting up additional investigators to focus on elder abuse, to set up a cold case unit that is so key at looking at homicide cases from 20 and 30 years ago when the forensics was not available but today is available - we need inspectors to be able to follow up on those cases."

One-time expenditures

-- Truancy prevention
-- Two vans for youth transport
-- New Western Addition library mobile van
-- Recreation and Parks Department rehabilitation
-- Urban outdoor course open-space
-- Log Cabin Ranch rehabilitation
-- Expansion of community safety cameras
-- Enhanced lighting in public housing complexes
-- District Attorney IT enhancement

On-going program expenditures

-- Youth employment services targeted to juvenile justice youth
-- Time-Banking Pilot Program Children's Baseline
-- Juvenile Advisory Council Children's Baseline
-- Western Addition Bookmobile
-- Urban outdoor courses
-- Evening reporting centers
-- Violence suppression program
-- Violence recidivism intervention program
-- Community outreach in public housing high-risk neighborhoods

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors meets at 2:00 p.m. next Tuesday.

Bay City News Service contributed to this report.




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