Mayor Ed Lee came under attack Tuesday for suggesting that San Francisco police officers should employ some form of “stop and frisk” tactics to combat gun violence.
Even as New York City’s version of the policy was under attack by civil liberties groups for encouraging racial profiling, Lee said to reporters last month that he was considering something similar for San Francisco.
The backlash against his suggestion intensified Tuesday when Supervisor Malia Cohen introduced a resolution, backed by five other supervisors, opposing such a policy. Cohen instead is calling for crime-reduction strategies that “do not encourage racial profiling and violate an individual’s constitutional rights.”
Meanwhile, the Coalition for a Safe San Francisco sent Lee a letter signed by 50 organizations that called on him “to make an immediate public statement that will assure San Franciscans that you are not urging the adoption of ‘stop-and-frisk’ policies similar to New York.” The letter said Lee’s comments last month were met with “alarm and deep dismay.”
Recently released data about New York City’s policy show that it led to some 685,724 separate stops, of which 88 percent resulted in no violation, arrest or citation. The lion’s share of people stopped were minorities, with 53 percent of stops involving blacks and 34 percent Hispanics. Some 51 percent of people stopped were between 12 and 24.
Supervisor David Campos, who supported the resolution along with supervisors Eric Mar, David Chiu, John Avalos and Christina Olague, said it was “shocking” that such a policy was even considered. He said it would undermine community policing, which is based on public trust.
“I hope that there was no serious thought given to this, but I do think it is unfortunate that this was even raised as a possibility, because it really goes against everything that we believe in here in San Francisco,” Campos said.
Lee’s spokeswoman Christine Falvey said Lee is “not looking to implement a cookie-cutter copy of a program in New York City,” but said he is exploring what other cities are doing to reduce gun violence and wants people to know he is “willing to try something different.” She said Lee “was bringing up the
subject to spur conservation.”
“If not this, what can we do?” she said.