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by Peter Moskos

February 19, 2011

Fewer Cops in San Fran

The usual. State and federal tax cuts. Local budget cuts. Union workers get screwed. The full story is here.
Because of the city's ongoing budget woes, no police academy classes are scheduled for next year, which means that instead of the 1,861 sworn officers who were working for the department in July 2010, retirements and resignations will drop that number to 1,745 by June 2012
"I can't say that the crime rate will rise because we lose officers ... but all creative ideas will be on the table," [Interim Chief Jeff Godown] said.
The department could even be forced to eliminate its popular community policing foot beats and "put the officers back in cars to answer radio calls."
Well that's not very creative. Why is foot patrol (and mounted) always the first thing to go? Partly because most cops don't take foot patrol seriously. It's just "hug a thug." And horses are a bit for show (but what a show!).

Foot patrol officers can answer calls, too. And they should. I'd even be for mounted units on radio patrol. Why not? I thought we needed to be creative. Are two-person units on the table (does S.F. uses two-officers per car? I don't know)? Have one officer per car. If I policed solo in the Eastern District, you can do it, too. And if you need to cut units, why not less car patrol? That's always the last to go. I wonder why.

I think I know:

The public don't notice if you cut a few patrol cars. So it's a pretty useless threat to make. But if you threaten to sell the horses to the glue factory... then everybody is up in arms. So when times are tough, the P.D. can't say, "We're going to cut cars, response time will go up slightly. It won't affect crime." Instead, the police department threatens: "You're gonna cut police funding? Then you won't see officers walking the beat. Cut us more? We'll go back to reactive policing and nothing else. Still not enough? We close your police station." It actually is a real threat. But it's not real leadership.

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