Immature posts from law enforcement unions are nothing new, but we can’t help but be amused by the new Twitter fight between SF Police Officers Association and the SF Deputy Sheriffs' Association, who are publicly airing beef between them over who should staff SFO.
I was very surprised to see a post on my Facebook timeline today from the San Francisco Deputy Sheriffs' Association, who I do not follow, nor have I ever had much interest in them. But it certainly jumps out that their post (which is Sponsored, so it’s getting higher visibility) declares “Looks like we struck a nerve with SFPOA. As we try to improve public safety in SF, SFPOA makes a Childish post and tries to Bully Us!”
The SFPOA is the San Francisco Police Officers Association, whom we’ve certainly razzed a little in the past. And these two organizations are not the SF Police Department or the SF Sheriff’s Office, they are the unions for SF police officers and sheriff’s deputies. And as we have explained before, police unions don’t call themselves “unions,” they call themselves “associations” or “fraternal orders,” so that way right-wingers who hate all unions won’t hate them.
Per this tweet, instead of allowing Deputy Sheriffs to work at SFO to relieve SFPD staffing shortage, SFPD pulls investigators from investigating crimes! You can’t make this stuff up! https://t.co/f3kesuO2K8— San Francisco Deputy Sheriffs’ Association (@SanFranciscoDSA) January 13, 2023
But the boys in blue are fighting with one another, so let’s grab popcorn and a front row seat. The beef begins with a screenshot of some sort of internal complaint about staffing and morale at SFPD, which the sheriff’s deputy union retweets with “Per this tweet, instead of allowing Deputy Sheriffs to work at SFO to relieve SFPD staffing shortage, SFPD pulls investigators from investigating crimes! You can’t make this stuff up!” (It is true that the SFPD currently has law enforcement jurisdiction at SF International Airport.)
But wait, there’s more. The Sheriff’s Dept is so understaffed, it needs 430 more deputies according to who? Well, @SanFranciscoDSA. Their president stated “We’re reducing inmates’ liberties within the jail,” due to staffing. pic.twitter.com/fDKo9IjHj4— San Francisco POA (@SanFranciscoPOA) January 15, 2023
Certainly no wallflowers on Twitter, the police union shoots back. “Timeout. We need to get this straight. The @SanFranciscoDSA continues to beg to be assigned to police @SFO (and now the ports!) even though they do not meet the MINIMUM training requirements for the job. Hmm…,” the association tweeted back Thursday. “But wait, there’s more. The Sheriff’s Dept is so understaffed, it needs 430 more deputies according to who? Well, @SanFranciscoDSA. Their president stated 'We’re reducing inmates’ liberties within the jail, due to staffing.”
(In this context, “DSA” refers to Deputy Sheriffs’ Association. But yes it is very funny that they have the same initials as the Democratic Socialists of America, who want to defund the police.)
Ouch we struck a nerve with the SFPOA! Their Monopoly on Law Enforcement Territory is in danger since they are spread thin. They don’t seem to care about the Safety of the Public they are more concerned about losing territory.— San Francisco Deputy Sheriffs’ Association (@SanFranciscoDSA) January 15, 2023
Still sparring, the officer’s association jabs again saying, “You lack the training to respond to a terrorist attack and your members are living in RVs outside of the jail because of your staffing crisis, yet you want to protect SFO.” (Wait, are sheriffs really living in RVs outside County Jail?) And the expression “Lomba Math” appears to be a dig at the deputies association President Ken Lomba.
The sheriff’s deputies association responds, “Ouch we struck a nerve with the SFPOA! Their Monopoly on Law Enforcement Territory is in danger since they are spread thin.”
This phrase “Monopoly on Law Enforcement” also comes up in the not one but two press releases on the matter the deputy sheriffs’ association put out this weekend. Their Sunday press release says “it appears that the SFPOA is more interested in protecting their monopoly on law enforcement instead of keeping San Francisco safe.”
But what is this argument even about? Why are they fighting over SFO? Apparently this is a more than two-year-old debate that Mission Local covered in September 2020. At that time, the deputies association sent Mayor Breed an open letter that, per Mission Local, “cited a July 2 Budget and Legislative Analyst report saying the city would save $5 million annually by replacing SFPD officers with Sheriff’s Deputies at the airport. The latter are paid less than SFPD officers, according to the report, and the SFPD would reap a one-time savings of $31.2 million by transferring its 226 SFO officers into San Francisco and postponing the hiring of new officers.”
So it looks like this is a turf war over staffing, and in a larger sense, the amount of money that each department gets budgeted. Obviously, both would like more money, so both would have an incentive to staff SFO. But as Mission Local’s reporting pointed out, this is not even an official request from the SF Sheriff’s Office proper. It's just some crusade their union is on.
And from the looks of these two unions’ social media posts, neither department is making an effective case that they ought to be handed more professional responsibilities.