It’s unclear exactly what Mayor Ed Lee had in mind when he first suggested some form of “stop and frisk” policy to combat The City’s recent surge in gun violence, but on Tuesday he pledged that his solution won’t violate residents’ civil rights.
With homicides and non-fatal shootings on the rise in Ingleside and Bayview, Lee has called for “bold” solutions. But his June suggestion that some form of “stop and frisk” policy could work in San Francisco has received a backlash from civil rights and community groups.
Tuesday, that backlash intensified.
Following a rally opposing the policy organized by the Black Young Democrats of San Francisco and attended by several supervisors, the Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution opposing any stop and frisk policy similar to New York’s.
Although the parameters of such a policy are unclear, in cities such as New York City and Philadelphia it has drawn criticism for encouraging police to swarm minority neighborhoods and racially profile innocent youth of color.
Critics say the tactic hasn’t reduced violence, but Lee said he’s open to talking about what works. In a brief address to the board before its vote, he did not specify what such a policy would look like in San Francisco, but said community engagement was vital.
“As a former human rights and civil rights attorney, I hold very dear to my heart the personal protections afforded to us under the 4th Amendment,” Lee said. “Those rights are sacrosanct and that’s period.”
Outside the meeting, Lee told reporters that he’s been counseled by police Chief Greg Suhr that “stop and frisk is not a bad program if you have reasonable suspicion as your standard. And that’s what they’ve been engaged in.”
Ingleside and Taraval police stations have so far responded to recent violence with the “strategic deployment” of SWAT and violence reduction teams, plainclothes officers, beat officers and neighborhood teams, Lee said.
Lee also said that his office was continuing to speak with community and religious leaders about how to get guns off the streets.
“I want the same level of passion that we have in making sure we’re protected against violations … on getting to the irresponsible, the very bad behavior that is leading to the violence,” Lee said.
For Kerrington Osborne of Community Leadership Academy and Emergency Response, a group serving families in violence-prone Sunnydale and Visitacion Valley, the issue is less about police enforcement than unemployment and generational poverty.
“The children in Sunnydale are exposed to this level of violence, repeatedly, for years,” Osborne said. But distrust of police “runs high,” said he added. “The feeling is stop and frisk is not going to make it better.”