Supes approve moving SFO cops to City streets 

Some police officers stationed at the San Francisco International Airport could wind up helping to patrol violence-plagued neighborhood streets under legislation approved on Tuesday.

Looking to boost the number of officers out patrolling city streets as San Francisco tries to combat the high rate of violent crimes and homicides, Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi drafted legislation requiring police Chief Heather Fong and airport director John Martin to figure out by July 1 whether any of the police officers stationed at the airport could be redeployed.

Under the legislation, Fong and Martin must work with the Controller’s Office to determine the number of officers necessary for the airport’s needs. Fong must draft a redeployment plan based on two things: If airport officers are deemed in excess of the determined baseline at SFO and if the Police Department operates below its charter-mandated minimum staffing level of 1,971, which it currently does.

Under the legislation, by the end of each fiscal year, Fong is required to report to the mayor, Board of Supervisors and the Police Commission what the airport’s staffing needs are and whether airport officers were redeployed during the year.

"I’ll be voting for this, but I vote for it honestly with very little expectation that anything will come of it," Supervisor Sean Elsbernd said. "Before 9/11, before the most horrendous airport incident we’ve ever had, there were 177 police officers out at the airport. How many are there today? 155. We’ve got 22 fewer post 9/11."

Mirkarimi said the legislation would hold the department accountable for airport staffing decisions, and could result in more officers on city streets.

Airport Bureau Cmdr. Jim Lynch said, "The department has made every attempt to balance the law enforcement needs both of the airport and various communities within The City."

Supervisor Ed Jew, who voted against the legislation, said the board should not micromanage the Police Department, which knows "best how to protect the people of San Francisco."

"San Francisco has endured a violence crisis and persistently high crime rates for well over three years now. I think in terms of deployment, we need to have the kind of flexibility that makes community policing the most effective," Mirkarimi said.

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