At least 11% of San Francisco police, about 167 officers, as well as 43 staff members are at risk of being laid off as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread across the state, bringing the department to a potential budget cut.
Officials from the San Francisco Police Department expect a near $37 million reduction in financial support from the city’s general funds. The cut falls under a two-year budget proposal, which will be presented to the Police Commission on Wednesday.
Police Budget Cuts
The department has previously observed cuts to its overtime payments, academy classes, and vacant positions. The financial reduction was caused by calls to defund the police after issues of injustice.
“It’s going to greatly impact personnel,” San Francisco Police Department Chief Financial Officer Patrick Leung said during a previous Police Commission meeting.
Between the last and current fiscal years, the police department’s budget was reduced by $24 million, bringing their total available funds to $667.9 million. Depending on which reductions are implemented in the coming year, the department could see a reduction down to $603 million.
Recently, San Francisco City Mayor London Breed advised all city departments to expect a reduction of about 7.5% in general fund support, with an additional 2.5% if economic conditions take a turn for the worse. Police said the 2.5% increased cut could result in 56 officers and 14 civilians losing their jobs.
Authorities are pushing the budget cuts amid a surge of shootings during the weekend and a series of high-profile killings beginning on New Year’s Eve. police said specific types of crimes, including burglaries, have risen in San Francisco despite overall crime seeing a reduced total. This year, 33 people have been the victims of gunshots compared to only nine in the same time last year.
The president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association, Tony Montoya, said “cutting 160 police officers will only make the streets of San Francisco more dangerous. We need a plan that results in fewer victims of crime, not more.”
However, many argued the need for civilian professionals who can take the place of laid-off police officers in handling homeless and mental health-related cases. There are 1,829 police officers currently employed in San Francisco, many of which are expected to lose their post in the coming years either by retiring or transferring to other departments without being replaced.
Last March, a staffing study observed the number of calls for service and found that the department had 2,176 officers, compared to the more recent 1,911 personnel.
By 2023, there could be as few as 1,502 officers remaining in the department, the SFPD projected. The reduction will come if no academy classes are given financial support and if officers and staff are continuously laid off.
During a meeting on Wednesday, the department is scheduled to fight for its workers and keep their posts. However, it was not revealed if the commission would be voting on the matter. Department officials argued the layoffs would create diversity within the rank-and-file sector due to civil service rules stating they are to lay off the newest hires first.
Out of the police officers who will be laid off due to the budget cut, 30% are Latinx, 28% are Asian, and 9% are Black. Currently, the entire department consists of 18% Latinx, 17% Asian, and 10% Black, the San Francisco Examiner reported.
“I’m going to allow myself not to rush any decisions. We are going to have a robust decision about [reducing] the police budget. If that means delaying one week, then that’s what it means,” Police Commission President Malia Cohen said, who is unsure of whether she supports the layoffs or not.