SAN FRANCISCO – The mayor of San Francisco on Friday declared a state of emergency in one of the city’s most criminal and drug addicted areas.
The area, Tenderloin, is just steps from City Hall, but has been the epicenter of drug trafficking, overdose deaths and homelessness for years.
London Mayor Breed said this week that many observers believe there has been a sharp turn in both tone and politics, and she will carry out “aggressive” repression on the “dirty streets” of her city. This is a very unusual move by the liberal mayor of one of the most liberal cities in the country.
“We are in a crisis and we need to respond accordingly,” she said at a press conference on Friday. “Too many people are dying in this city, too many people are scattered across our streets,” she said, referring to residents who have had an overdose.
Friday’s announcement of the state of emergency specifically targeted the city’s drug overdose crisis. Last year, more than double the number of people who died from a drug overdose in San Francisco than from the coronavirus. But Friday’s announcement is part of a broader and more aggressive campaign to tackle drug trafficking and improve conditions on the city’s streets.
Earlier this week, Ms. Breed admitted that many of her progressive supporters will give up on her efforts, but she said, “We cannot do the same thing every day and expect different results.” She said she understands that San Francisco is a city of compassion, but “we are not a city where everything goes.”
The announcement is part of a series of initiatives aimed at curbing street sales of stolen goods, increasing police surveillance powers, and giving people who use drugs outdoors the choice between treatment or prison. She said the declaration of a state of emergency would allow the city to overcome bureaucratic red tape and increase funding for the police, who, she said, had already arrested 23 people while reviewing felony warrants.
The declaration of the state of emergency must be ratified by the City’s Supervisory Council within the next seven days and will remain in effect for no more than 90 days.
Crime statistics provided by the San Francisco Police Department show that several categories of crime have declined in 2019, the last year before the pandemic. So far this year, there have been almost 29,000 theft cases, which is more than last year, but far less than the nearly 40,000 thefts recorded during the same period in 2019. The homicide rate has increased to 53 this year from 37 in 2019.
Burglary has risen sharply in 2020 but has declined slightly this year, while vehicle thefts have also risen sharply in 2020 and have remained roughly the same this year.