Somewhat unexpectedly the Board of Supervisors over turned the mayors veto of the Beat Foot Patrol law with 9 supes voting to over-ride and only pier-alioto and elsbernd supporting veto - both of whom were originally appointed by newsom.
Ah yes - SF politics.
BUT - no one addresses the issue of how effectively the current staff at SFPD is deployed and removing officers from victimless crimes and and non-essential and non-priority duties and re-assign to beat foot patrols. DO'H!
BTW: Matier and Ross report on rumblings from the supes about Chief Fong and should she go: http://tinyurl.com/yk6ll3
Supervisors override mayor’s veto of foot patrol bill
(Cindy Chew/The Examiner)
The Board of Supervisors’ move prompts the Police Department to use more foot patrols and update the board within six months.
Joshua Sabatini, The Examiner
Nov 15, 2006 2:00 AM (9 hrs ago)
Current rank: # 25 of 6,868 articles
SAN FRANCISCO - Mayor Gavin Newsom’s veto of the controversial legislation requiring regular foot patrols was shot down Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors.
Starting next year, the Police Department will have to regularly staff foot beats around eight of San Francisco’s 10 police stations and within six months report to the Board of Supervisors how effective the foot beats are in reducing crime. The report will also include how often police officers were out walking the beats.
In what has become one of the hottest political fights of the year, that of the Board of Supervisors against the Mayor’s Office and the Police Department, nine supervisors voted in support of the policy that was authored by Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi.
Mirkarimi introduced the legislation that dictated the foot patrol policy in June, saying he was frustrated with the mayor’s and police Chief Heather Fong’s lack of response to the record-setting homicide rate of the last three years and ongoing growth in violent crimes. Foot patrols are seen by Mirkarimi and others as a way to build community trust, deter crime and generate a feeling of safety in neighborhoods long plagued by violent crime.
On the day of the vote, Newsom blasted the legislation.
“Let the police chief decide where these officers go, not a supervisor that has no public safety experience, that has no history in this department,” Newsom said. “It’s just a terrible precedent and I am not going to stand by and watch politicians play cop. No city in America does this.”
A day before the board vote, police Chief Heather Fong unveiled a new effort to put more officers out walking the streets, seen as an attempt to kill the legislation. The chief’s plan mirrored the Mirkarimi legislation but did not require updates to supervisors.
Nevertheless, the board voted 9-2 to override Newsom’s veto. It takes eight votes from the 11-member board to override a mayor’s veto.
Fong’s plan does not have an accountability aspect and “the timing of her proposal is suspect,” Mirkarimi said.
Supervisor Jake McGoldrick also questioned the motivation of Fong’s new plan as the veto was pending. “I guess somebody else would like credit for it,” McGoldrick said.
Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier, who backed Newsom’s veto along with Sean Elsbernd, said police operations should be dictated by the chief and the captains, not the legislative body of city government.
“The Police Department should be run by the mayor and by the police chief and by the captains,” Alioto-Pier said.
Supervisor Bevan Dufty, who said his district is being hit by crime, said the board was not intruding on the operations of this department, but that the board “needs to step forward because we are not seeing the level of leadership at the command structure that we need right now.”
Following the override vote, Fong, who Monday said that if the legislation passed she would defer to the opinions of police captains and not the legislation, said, “I do not believe that there is a problem with complying.” Starting Nov. 24, 44 additional beat officers would be out walking the streets, Fong said.
Supes override mayor's veto of police foot patrol measure
- Heather Knight, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors handed Mayor Gavin Newsom a major defeat on Tuesday, overriding his veto of legislation mandating foot patrols by city police and calling into question the leadership of his handpicked police chief Heather Fong.
The 9-2 vote was the first override of a Newsom veto and capped a miserable week for the mayor that began with election day defeats, followed by the 49ers' announcement that they plan to leave the city and the resulting withdrawal of San Francisco's bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Newsom failed to make his veto -- the seventh of his tenure -- stand up because he didn't have the support of Supervisors Bevan Dufty and Fiona Ma, who generally vote with the mayor.
To the contrary, Dufty, among Newsom's closest allies on the board, delivered blistering criticism of Fong's leadership prior to the vote.
"Our city is hungry for strong public safety leadership," Dufty said. "Our chief needs to speak up and speak clearly and without regard to where the chips may fall, but to use her judgment ... to make decisive decisions and creatively address these problems."
"I don't think any one of us as elected officials should be leading a police department," the supervisor continued. "She should."
In the end, however, Dufty said the vacuum of leadership at the top of the city's 1,700-officer police force meant the proposed foot-patrol legislation was the board's best option to respond to a worsening crime problem.
Only Supervisors Sean Elsbernd and Michela Alioto-Pier -- both of whom were first appointed to the board by the mayor -- voted to uphold the veto.
The legislation, sponsored by Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi and passed by the board last month, establishes a one-year pilot program under which at least two officers must spend a full shift each day walking areas patrolled by 8 of the city's 10 police stations. The board's budget analyst determined it would take 33 officers to fulfill the proposal.
For weeks, the chief and other department representatives argued the measure might slow response times to some crimes because officers would have to be pulled out of squad cars. They added the department already complies with the essence of the ordinance -- with more than 300 officers on average spending some part of each week walking a foot patrol.
In vetoing the legislation, Newsom said the Police Department had plans of its own to assign more officers to foot patrols -- and on Monday Fong said 44 officers would be on foot patrols in all 10 police stations by Nov. 24, weeks ahead of the January start date of Mirkarimi's legislation.
Mirkarimi, who said he offered the legislation as a response to rising gun and gang violence, said the mayor and police chief were just playing politics -- and that their plan lacked any legally binding assurances that it would be carried out.
Further irking supervisors, Fong made a statement reported by The Chronicle on Tuesday suggesting that whatever happened -- whether Mirkarimi's legislation was passed or the veto was upheld -- it would remain up to the department's station captains to decide how to deploy officers.
Outside the board chambers Tuesday, Fong reiterated her arguments against the measure. "We have always been committed to foot patrols," she said. "It's a matter of having the resources to do it."
Immediately after the vote, she declined to comment on the veto override or Dufty's remarks, saying, "There will be new beat patrol officers on the streets of San Francisco -- that's the important thing."
Asked whether she will comply, the chief said, "The captains have to have flexibility in terms of their deployment, but I don't believe compliance will be a problem."
Newsom said the legislation unnecessarily ties the hands of police brass.
"We have provided an ample alternative that actually does much more than the legislation requires and much sooner," the mayor said shortly before the meeting.
Asked if he would advise Fong not to comply with the law, Newsom said, "I'm going to advise her to do what she feels is right to protect the people of this city."
"Let the police chief decide where these officers go and not a supervisor that has no public safety experience and no history in this department," Newsom continued. "It sets a terrible precedent. I'm not going to stand by and watch politicians play cop. No city in America does this."
Mirkarimi, who previously worked as an investigator for the San Francisco district attorney's office, called Newsom's remarks "childish."
Peter Ragone, the mayor's press secretary, declined comment on Dufty's remarks about Fong.
Dufty, after the meeting, said he's been hearing many stories from residents of his district about crime -- including car break-ins, home burglaries and even a stabbing over an iPod -- and the failure of police inspectors to follow up. His district includes the Castro, where the annual Halloween party was marred when nine people were shot, but Dufty said that wasn't the motivation for his speech.
He said he's talked to Fong and Newsom about his concerns that the city lacks a strong voice for public safety.
"My views were no surprise to them," he said. "I recognize this is a difficult week for the mayor -- that there are a lot of issues providing challenges, but this is important."
Asked whether he would like to see Fong leave her post, Dufty paused for several moments before responding.
"I believe Heather can be that chief of police, but I also realize it would require her to be more forceful and outspoken," he said. "I've always believed there are more politics in the Hall of Justice than there are in City Hall