Working for a Safer Sunset
One of the countless things the pandemic has upended in our lives is our sense of safety and belonging. Being together with family, with friends, with neighbors – the very things that are central to our sense of community and comfort – were suddenly made dangerous.
The new, invisible threat of COVID-19 compounded existing fears and bigotry against Asians and immigrants, and exacerbated inequalities and prejudices.
While shifting our lives and lifestyles, COVID-19 also upended crime trends. With tourists gone, the opportunistic “smash and grab” car break-ins targeting downtown visitors plummeted, and in some cases moved to the neighborhoods. Violent crime overall decreased dramatically – while residential and commercial break-ins increased and hate crimes against Asian and Pacific Americans took alarming and heartbreaking turns for the worst.
As your supervisor, and as the chair of the Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee, I have made public safety in the Sunset and San Francisco one of my top priorities. I want to share some highlights on our work to build a safer community.
We’ve made critical investments in policing, including expanding police academies to ensure sufficient new recruits to account for officer retirements and attrition, along with reforms to address bias and discrimination in policing. And overall, I’m focused on investing in the strategies we know work best to make us safer. This means working proactively to prevent crime before it happens by investing in community services, outreach and resilience. It means using community policing models that take nonviolent approaches to safety and security. It means expanding support and services for victims of crime. It means collecting more data and better information, and it means holding departments and agencies accountable. As a member of the legislative branch, I’ve used my role to write laws, allocate funding,and hold hearings to address public safety. These are the tools I have, and here is how I’ve been using them.
Last year, I wrote and passed the Crime Victim Data Disclosure Act to ensure that hate crimes and demographic data of victims are publicly reported and tracked by SFPD. Since this law came into effect, we’ve been collecting far more and better data to understand disparities in how different crimes are impacting different communities – to better prevent and address them.
I also wrote and passed a resolution calling for a Citywide AAPI Violence Prevention and Victim Support Plan – work that is underway in collaboration with the mayor’s office and a dozen city departments. This collaboration is essential to ensure this plan is comprehensive, effective and actionable. As a legislator, I rely on the executive branches of government to enforce our laws – and also work with them to do it, and to hold them accountable for it. As part of this work, I also held a hearing on crime and violence against the AAPI community to specifically advocate for more language access and culturally appropriate public safety resources.
Through the Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee, I held a hearing on strategies to prevent residential burglaries and package theft, longstanding problems in the Sunset that we’re working to improve. I have called a hearing focused on improving public safety on our commercial corridors to better protect small businesses and residents.
These hearings are important for holding departments accountable and digging into the data and root causes of these issues – work that we’ve carried through by funding and creating new programs and services.
Here in the Sunset, I’ve funded a new position to have a full-time organizer working on public safety in our neighborhood, and expanded funding to bring community safety ambassadors to our commercial corridors, including Irving, Noriega and Taraval streets. These will be coming soon, and we’re excited to be bringing these new resources to the Sunset. I’ve also supported the expansion of senior safety programs, including escorts for seniors in the Sunset, and engaging small businesses to serve as safe havens for seniors feeling unsafe.
I and my office have supported the development of new Neighborhood Watch groups in our neighborhood, which help neighbors look out for one another. We’ve also directly supported the creation of the Sunset Safety Squad, a dedicated team of volunteers who are hitting the streets every week to conduct outreach, talk with residents and businesses owners, share safety information and resources, and strengthen community engagement. The Sunset Safety Squad is a powerful example of how stronger communities are safer communities, and you can connect, volunteer, or get involved by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Through my work on the Budget Committee, we secured more than $11 million in funding in this year’s budget to expand public safety presence on our streets, along with legal advocacy, escorts for seniors, and wraparound services for victims of crime – and we included dedicated funding for an API Equity Advisor. We also secured $1 million to help small businesses invest in security upgrades to prevent retail break-ins before they happen. Also, we have worked in partnership with the Neighborhood District Attorney Program to support victims of crime.
Through all of this work, I’ve been deeply moved by the care and compassion of our neighbors looking out for one another. Strong communities are safe communities – and as we work to prevent crime before it happens, address crime after it happens, and hold departments accountable when it happens, we are doing it hand in hand with the neighbors and organizations that form the backbone of a safer, more resilient Sunset.
There’s more work to do, and we’re doing it together.
Gordon Mar represents District 4 on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He can be reached at (415) 554-7460 or email@example.com.
Categories: City Hall