By Joshua Bote
SFGate, San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO — A tenth of San Francisco’s police force could be slashed because of budget cuts, as city agencies grapple with economic challenges caused by the pandemic.
A proposal obtained by the San Francisco Examiner found that 167 officers — and 43 civilian staffers — could be dropped by the police department during this budget cycle.
In December, Mayor London Breed ordered all city departments to cut their budgets by 7.5% after the city projected a deficit of up to $653 million within the next two years. “While this pandemic will continue to slow our recovery, I know we can do the hard work to get this City moving forward,” she said in a statement at the time.
That order also included a 2.5% contingency cut “should things get worse.” If that occurs, another 56 officers could be laid off, police said.
While crime is down overall in San Francisco, auto thefts and burglaries have spiked. Nonfatal gun violence has also increased in the city, with 33 shooting victims last month compared with nine incidents in the same period in 2020. The number of homicides has remained the same.
Newly hired officers would be the first eliminated because of a “last in, first out” mandate by the department. Two-thirds of the officers who could be affected by layoffs are people of color — 30% Latino, 28% Asian and 9% Black. Police say that these layoffs, as a result, could hurt diversity efforts in the force.
The police commission unanimously rejected the budget Wednesday night in a symbolic display of support for the police force, per KTVU. The police union also condemned the cuts at the meeting.
“For residents, for tourists, when COVID is over and people come back, you want a safe city,” said Tracy McCray, the vice president of the police union, KTVU reported.
SFPD employs 1,829 officers. The department has until Monday, Feb. 22, to submit a final budget proposal.
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