San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi has always been a fan of foot patrols, which during his time as a Supervisor made him many enemies in the San Francisco Police Department. And, true to form, now sheriff's deputies will be able to patrol streets like beat cops thanks to a push from the embattled Sheriff, the Examiner reports. Equally typical of Mirkarimi's tenure: Expect more pushback against him as a result.

The California Commission on Police Officers’ Standards and Training, the state’s police training body, has certified the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department since earlier this month to train its deputies for the streets.

The main role of the 840 or so deputies has historically been to operate the City's jail system. But, says Mirkarimi, “As the second largest law enforcement agency in San Francisco, I found it counter-intuitive that other agencies and city officials treated the [deputies] as just jailers.... Decades ago, an inherent public safety caste system emerged at significant expense to the taxpayer by undermining collective public safety planning and budgeting.”

The change is to augment a chronically understaffed police department. The Board of Supervisors this summer approved a two-year, $11 million hiring plan for the police in order to put its force into compliance with the 1994 voter-mandated staffing level: 1,971 officers. In fact, based on population growth since 1994, that goal is now more than 2,200 officers.

"Where there are no foot patrols due to insufficient staff capacity, that can change. Where there is no law enforcement presence on MUNI, that can change,” reads the statement from Mirkarimi. “Where neighborhoods feel the neglect and are resigned to high crime norms, that can change. Where community policing lacks … that can change.... Where Treasure Island and our parks suffer due to a limited law enforcement response, that can change.”

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