The City and County of San Francisco and the San Francisco Police Department are currently facing a federal lawsuit, now headed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, after a federal judge threw out the case despite a Superior Court Judge ruling it was valid. The lawsuit is over the City’s destruction of the San Francisco Patrol Special Police – a local San Francisco Charter-inscribed neighborhood police patrol force operating since the 1850’s. The City allegedly destroyed this 160-year-old, 400+ officer local street police force, and the City is now profiting millions from hiring out SFPD officers providing “10B” private security services to private clients. With 400+ local neighborhood patrol special police officers now gone, San Francisco was recently ranked #1 in property crime of the nation’s top 50 cities, according to FBI statistics, as discussed in the New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/25/us/san-francisco-torn-as-some-see-street-behavior-worsen.html?smid=tw-share&_r=2
– Was San Francisco crime affected by this?
– Could the Patrol Special police reduce crime, but were destroyed for political or financial reasons? If so, who made those decisions?
– Do some wealthier San Francisco neighborhoods, select businesses and citizens ever get more SFPD police protection than the poor?
– Did the City destroy a community police force of once hundreds of local neighborhood Patrol Special Police officers while trying to increase revenues by hiring out the SFPD as private security?
– Did the City take the retirements of elderly and disabled Patrol Special Police Officers?
– Do City officials have a position on whether the disappearance of neighborhood Patrol Special Police Officers from the streets has affected the high crime rate?
– Why is every San Francisco public official refusing to comment on this matter?
THE STORY OF THE 160 YEAR OLD SAN FRANCISCO PATROL SPECIAL POLICE
For those who believe San Francisco’s City government is unable to provide sufficient police security on its streets, that sentiment is not new. Since 1851, San Francisco’s first police chief, Marshall Fallon, when lacking enough funds for “regular” police officers, swore in “special police” officers and designated them territories to patrol. This two-tiered policing system in San Francisco remained forever valuable.
For most of 160 years, hundreds of local neighborhood Special Police Officers worked along side regular SFPD, helped keep the peace, reduced crime, reported to the Police Commission, and ensured neighborhoods always had enough local police protection. At times, there were more Patrol Specials than regular SFPD on San Francisco streets. Patrol Specials often had faster response times, greater presence, and higher satisfaction than the regular SFPD, because the Patrol Special Police had the exclusive right to be paid by the communities, merchants, shop owners, and neighborhood citizens, as needed. The regular SFPD could only be paid by public funds, and could not accept private money for their public policing duties. The Patrol Specials knew the communities, and literally worked for and were paid by the communities. Today, the last few remaining Patrol Special Police Officers still report to the Police Commission, which granted them ownership of their patrol beat territories pursuant to the City Charter.
But the City became interested in the Patrol Specials’ revenues, and has been hiring out regular SFPD officers as privately-hired, privately-paid security. Now, SFPD officers often work as privately-paid security, in public police uniform, on San Francisco streets, for over $100 an hour, for select clients, businesses and neighborhoods who can pay these high rates, under the SFPD’s “10B program” which is bringing revenues to the City of over $10 million dollars a year, of which the City keeps a percentage. By comparison, the Patrol Specials’ rates were a fraction of what 10B charges, and businesses, apartment complexes and neighborhood associations could chip in for very affordable police patrols customized according to community needs.
According to the Patrol Specials’ lawsuit, the City destroyed the Patrol Special Police force, up to 400 neighborhood patrol officers, without a public vote or changing the Charter, or even telling them it was cancelling the program. While the City Charter requires a minimum of 1971 police officers, the Patrol Specials were not counted towards this number. Some City Officials decided to reduce the Patrol Specials’ status to call them “security guards”, despite that the City’s highest law, the City Charter, their badges and uniforms all still say they are “San Francisco Police” with duties to patrol San Francisco streets.
According to the lawsuit, the City, having financial incentive, sabotaged the Patrol Specials, obstructed their hiring of officers, competed for and took their business, drove them out of business, and took their retirements. Ironically, while the City now receives millions in revenue from hiring out SFPD for privately-paid security, and possibly more if crime rises, the City also now spends millions hiring private security guards for duty in numerous areas around San Francisco to try to supplement current crime needs.
The Patrol Specials sued the City, believing they are fighting for the right to protect the citizens as well as their retirements. The Patrol Specials believe their rights are inscribed in the Charter by citizen vote to keep them paid by communities so they can keep patrolling the streets, as they have for 160 years, and a handful of unnamed public officials or competing SFPD should not destroy and remove them without a proper public policy decision to do so.
There is concern that the high crime and police shootings are connected to the destruction of these local neighborhood police patrols. Yet, public officials remain silent, taking no positions. Not one City official has yet said that removal of these local neighborhood Patrol Special Police patrols from the streets has not affected crime. Do City officials feel we have enough police on the streets? Not one City official has said how many Patrol Specials they believe should be on the streets, though communities are clamoring for more security, and Police Commissioners have admitted in the past that Patrol Specials played a valuable role in the community.
Sadly, after Patrol Specials were there for the City through earthquakes, police strikes, depressions and crime, as an essential part of peace and security since 1851, now they are no more.
The City Attorney’s Office is still fighting the Patrol Specials in court to destroy the property rights that kept them on the streets, and refusing to negotiate, despite the Patrol Specials offering solutions they believe to be in the public interest, including crime reduction and cost reduction for the City. It is unclear under whose authority and direction these City decisions are being made today.
While the California Superior Court ruled that the Patrols Specials have a valid case and constitutionally-protected property rights, which Patrol Specials claim has historically ensured they can be paid by the communities they serve and which kept them on the street, the City Attorney’s office removed the case to a federal court, which reversed that decision and threw out the entire case without trial. The case is now headed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Now only a handful of Patrol Specials are left, mostly elderly, some as old as 79, still patrolling the streets, some seven nights a week, alone, with destroyed retirements. They are tired, and exhausted by the vast resources the City is spending fighting to destroy these neighborhood patrols. Some can barely afford bullet proof vests. The Patrol Specials always believed they were fighting in the city’s best interests, for the peace and safety of neighborhoods.
All of this, according to their lawsuit and case allegations, now headed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The last of these heroes continue to fight for justice in court, and will take this case to the Supreme Court of the United States, if necessary. They are represented by their sole attorney, Daniel A. Bakondi, Esq. , United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Case No. 17-16311, United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Case No. 3:16-cv-00691 WHA. (Formerly San Francisco Superior Court Case No.CGC13-528788)
The movie above shows the Patrol Specials and their claims as of April 2017, prior to the federal court’s ruling.
For more information, please visit http://www.gofundme.com/patrolspecialpolice
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