In the nine days since Mayor Breed and law enforcement started this much-ballyhooed drug use crackdown, the Sheriff’s Office claims that 58 people have been arrested on drug-related charges.
It’s been a little over two weeks since Mayor London Breed announced plans to arrest people who are high on drugs in public, and we got confirmation earlier this week that a smattering of such arrests have been carried out. On Thursday, the SF Sheriff’s Office announced they’d be deploying squads of deputies to arrest drug users and dealers, though the Chronicle notes that the six-month effort to utilize sheriff’s deputies will be “starting at the end of June.”
S.F. arrests 58 drug users in a week as Mayor Breed cracks down on open-air drug markets. https://t.co/rLxf5tRwyu— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) June 9, 2023
The Chronicle makes that observation in a report detailing that SF law enforcement entities say they've made 58 arrests "by multiple agencies since May 30.” (It’s unclear the breakdown of who made which arrests, some arrests may have been made by state Highway Patrol officers that Governor Newsom directed in.) The Chron details that the charges were related to public intoxication or drug possession, thought they add that “All but one [of the suspects] were also arrested for more serious crimes.”
“Jails do not need to be about punishment. They can be a place of compassion and accountability,” SF Sheriff Paul Miyamoto at the big Thursday press conference at Civic Center.
SFPD chief Bill Scott added, “We have to turn around in our city the mindset that if I have a substance disorder I can just go to any public sidewalk and public place and use.”
Mayor Breed is also reportedly pushing something called an “Intoxication Detention pilot program,” where suspects arrested under this effort would be jailed for just a few hours and offered treatment upon release. It seems that criminal charges will not be filed in these cases. But on one’s third arrest, suspects would face criminal charges, though they’ll also have the option of a treatment-based diversion programs.
The Chronicle adds that of the 25 people arrested in the first week of this program, “none accepted drug treatment after release.” For now suspects are being held in County Jail, but the city is supposedly setting up some sort of detention center-type concept that has not yet been formally announced or opened.
Serious question: How much $$$ will this waste? 135 sheriff deputies paid OVERTIME ?!?! Essentially to detain people in jail for 4 hours? This is the most expensive shelter plan I’ve ever heard of 🤣🤣🤣— Christin Evans (@christinevans) June 8, 2023
Deploying the sheriff’s deputies is an incredibly costly measure, as they’ll be working overtime (and getting paid overtime rates) the whole time they’re on this drug arrest duty. And that department is already notably understaffed, reportedly operating at a 76% staffing capacity. So this strategy is both very expensive, and taking resources away from other law enforcement duties.
There will certainly be some pressure to show results — not just declared arrest numbers, but visibly improved conditions on the streets — and there will be even more pressure if other crimes trend up because all of the officers are on the Tenderloin and SoMa drug beat.
Image: @SFPDChief via Twitter