It’s a good thing the SFPD got their $25 million more in overtime approved by the Board of Supervisors Tuesday, because it seems they had already started spending plenty of that over-budget overtime money.
Last month, San Francisco Mayor London Breed asked for $27.6 million more for SFPD overtime pay, which went before the SF Board of Supervisors Tuesday. But the measure they considered was trimmed to $25.3 million, which sounds like some sort of fiscal responsibility was being enacted.
Not so! For one thing, Supervisor Ahsha Safai introduced an amendment to more than make up for that reduction, asking the overtime be increased by $3.1 million more, to $28.4 million. (He withdrew that upon learning that the whole thing would then go back to committee, and the SFPD wouldn't get the overtime approved for weeks.) But more surprisingly, we learned that SFPD had already been spending the unapproved extra overtime money, with Supervisor Dean Preston noting that last December the SFPD had exceeded their overtime budget by $22 million, “before the mayor even filed or introduced a supplemental [budget] request.”
So it’s lucky for the SFPD that the supervisors approved that $25.3 million in overtime pay by a 9-2 vote, with only Preston and Supervisor Shamann Walton voting no, because the department had already been spending that overtime money, unapproved, for months.
The majority of the board were easy ‘Yes’ votes, because of the rash of recent headline-grabbing crimes. “The public wants and deserves to feel safe in San Francisco, and the reality is they do not,” Supervisor Catherine Stefani said before the vote. “There are not enough officers to go around. I’ve had three armed robberies at Palace of Fine Arts, we had someone who was just beat terribly in the Marina. It’s not just my district, it’s everywhere.”
But Preston, as mentioned above, tore into the department, saying they “wildly overspent their already-increased budget, and now want a bailout with more raises, bonuses, and unlimited overtime, most of it going to protect luxury retail stores and tourists.”
“We have fewer calls per officer, longer response times, and lower clearance rates,” he added. “These facts together should lead policy makers, all of us, to be asking what is going on, and to condition funding on seeing some improvements.”
Supervisor Matt Dorsey, a former SFPD employee and generally a reliable vote for police spending, voted for the measure, but also cautioned against the overtime spending habit.
“I don’t think this is the way to be running a government,” Dorsey said before the vote. “This isn’t the way to run a world-class city. When we’re relying on overtime, let’s be honest about this — we’re spending more money for less policing.”
Screenshot via SFGov.TV