Governor Gavin Newsom is doubling the number of Highway Patrol and California National Guard officers in his ballyhooed fentanyl crackdown in SF, and saying that this isn't "the old, failed war on drugs."
We are now about two months into the California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers being deployed in the Tenderloin in this highly publicized fentanyl crackdown. And according to their latest numbers, they say they’ve arrested 115 people and seized 8.1 kilos of fentanyl. They celebrate this in the somewhat awkward Facebook post below declaring, “Time flys when you’re working with your friends!”
Those arrest and kilo statistics come from a new Chronicle exclusive reporting that Governor Gavin Newsom is now doubling the number of state officers deployed in this crackdown. (California National Guard officers are deployed as well.) Per the Chronicle, the seven to 10 CHP officers deployed every day will be increased to 14 to 20 officers daily. National Guard staffing will also increase, but staffing figures on that were not announced.
“We have a lot of existing laws on the books. I’d like to see us start to enforce the damn existing laws,” Newsom told the Chronicle. “I’ll be honest with you, my biggest gripe right now in San Francisco has been, frankly, we’re not enforcing existing laws… we’re not prosecuting the law breakers. Judges, DAs, the whole panoply — I want to see people held accountable for breaking the law.”
But hmmmm, the Chronicle also gets the detail out of Newsom that his Plumpjack Group businesses have been broken into a "half dozen times." So maybe Gavin’s got more skin in this game than we realized. (Officially, Newsom's ownership interest in the Plumpjack Group was put into a blind trust when he became governor, and his sister, Hillary Newsom, serves as co-president alongside longtime company exec Jeremy Scherer.) We know that the original Plumpjack Wine & Spirits shop in Cow Hollow was burglarized multiple times in 2020/2021, but it's unclear whether another of the company's properties in SF, the upscale Mission cocktail spot Wildhawk that replaced the Lexington Club, has also been broken into.
There has been some degree of controversy that CHP officers are pulling people over for low-level offenses like busted tail lights as a pretext to searching for drugs. That practice has been banned in San Francisco and is considered akin to racial profiling.
According to the Chronicle, “Newsom demurred when asked if he supported efforts to ban pretextual stops in San Francisco and to increase criminal penalties for fentanyl dealers, saying those issues should be dealt with by local and state leaders, respectively.”
Ummm, Governor Newsom, I believe you are a state leader?
Newsom insisted “I’m not going back to the old, failed war on drugs.” But we can’t help but notice that, for whatever its merits, this crackdown has so far correlated with an increase in fentanyl overdose deaths. So the war on drug comparison may be valid.
“We have tried this before with the failed war on drugs,” ACLU legislative advocate Becca Cramer-Mowder told the Chron. “It harms communities most impacted by drug addiction without addressing the public health issues.”
There is also going to be some federal help called “Operation Overdrive,” which has not started yet, nor its details specifically announced.
Image: CHP - San Francisco via Facebook