DSA SF, led by AfroSocialists and Socialists of Color Committee, condemns the recent proposals for increased signing bonuses and a $27.6M budget supplemental for the San Francisco Police Department, and instead advocates for increased spending for teachers, public health workers, and other underfunded social services and community based solutions that will make a meaningful and long-term impact on our community. We call on the people of San Francisco to oppose another massive increase to SFPD’s budget.
At a time when many working class residents and San Francisco city workers are facing potential eviction, hunger, a lack of jobs offering living wages, and countless other crises that could be addressed by local government, it is unsurprising but disappointing to see the mayor and many supervisors fighting to spend more money on policing.
Just last year, the Board of Supervisors approved an amendment to the Police Officers Association’s memorandum of understanding (i.e., contract) to include longevity bonuses, pay raises, and sign-on bonuses. In addition to the fact that the city voluntarily opened up the SFPD contract for negotiation, the SFPD was the only agency that received all three of these concessions from the city. Teachers, sanitation workers, firefighters, bus drivers, and other essential workers were denied such consideration.
The Mayor and Board of Supervisors also approved a massive SFPD’s $713 million budget for 2023, which it is on track to overspend.
SFPD doesn’t have a budget problem, they have an accountability problem.
Compared to similar jurisdictions around the country, SFPD already spends more per capita on policing, and has a higher police officer to resident ratio than similar cities. This latest move continues an ongoing trend of increased police spending, despite data from the SF police department itself showing that crime has decreased compared to previous years. Meanwhile, the SFPD is taking longer and longer to respond to calls, including serious calls about violent crime.
Supervisor Matt Dorsey’s recent call for increased signing bonuses for new officers continues this unfair and unjustified use of public funds. Just last year, the Board of Supervisors approved an amendment to the Police Officers Association’s memorandum of understanding to include longevity bonuses, pay raises, and sign-on bonuses. The SFPD was the only agency that received all three of these concessions from the city. Teachers, sanitation workers, firefighters, bus drivers, etc. were denied such consideration.
All of this paints a clear picture: this is a blatant display of SFPD exceptionalism which does nothing to solve the root causes of San Francisco’s tattered social fabric.
The city is in crisis. Crucial functions that boost the city’s wellness continue to be severely underfunded. Even well-tenured teachers in San Francisco typically make less than $80,000 annually, putting them below the poverty line and below the earnings of a starting police officer. City College of San Francisco is similarly facing a budget crisis, with many educators being laid off and many others being forced to part time roles as classes are canceled. Many public health workers were supposed to be hired to support linkages to housing and medical treatment in the Tenderloin, but plans have repeatedly fallen through with little accountability. Muni faces a $215 million deficit as federal pandemic funding runs out, and could potentially cut service by 25%.
As a country, we already know that our community’s safety is dependent not on increased policing, but funding of our social pillars, such as health, education, and safer streets.
Under capitalism, we live in an atomized society where the capitalists hoard all the wealth while the working class fights for scraps. This inequality creates the conditions of desperation that lead to crime. When a person’s needs: food, water, housing, healthcare, transportation, education, are not met, they have every right (even a duty) to break the rules of a society that denies them to all. Punishment of individuals does nothing to end the conditions that lead to crime, nor is it intended to. Police exist to protect property and maintain a hierarchical order through the threat of violence. Our criminal “justice” system regularly breaks families apart, puts them in debt due to fees and penalties, and reinforces desperate situations that lead to more crime. Restorative justice is transformative when we look to build better people instead of punishing them. The solution: solidarity and socialism. Creating a society where we work together to meet our collective needs will always be more effective than an order rooted in violence.
In the face of this injustice, we ask every San Francisco resident: when we give the Police Officer’s Association and SFPD priority and political weight over our teachers, public health workers, and public transportation, what does this say about our values?
We know that we can do better. If you also believe in investing in the long-term health of our communities, speak out against both of these proposals when they hit the Board of Supervisors. The police department’s $27.6 million supplemental will be heard on March 14, and we expect police bonuses to be heard in the coming weeks. In the meantime, join our coalition as we push back against increased policing, and in favor of the services that uplift our community and address the root causes of the issues we see today. You can use our toolkit to make public comment at the relevant meetings and email the Mayor and Board of Supervisors.