Budget ax falls on crime-fighting program

March 2, 2009 6:45:59 PM PST
The budget ax fell in San Francisco Monday on a program that works throughout the city to control crime. It is called Safety Network.

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"In my district, there was a serious spate of robberies that were taking place," said Supervisor Bevan Dufty.

"The chief has made it clear that she is interested in reaching out to people so that they feel comfortable coming forward," said Supervisor David Campos.

Members of the supervisors' Public Safety Committee voiced their concerns Monday over robberies and the reluctance of citizens to report crimes. At the same time across town, Meital Amitai was told she will lose her job as an organizer for a city program that helps communities fight crime.

After more than a decade of addressing safety issues in San Francisco's neighborhoods, Safety Network was told that the city will cut its entire $600,000 budget.

The group helped organize a crime summit and a march to City Hall by residents fed up with rising violence and drug dealing. Amitai helped protect the homeless and deal with crime.

"Anything from shootings, feeling unsafe in their hotels, in their homes where they live," said Amitai.

In the Tenderloin, Safety Network set up safe havens. Dina Hilliard was the group's coordinator.

"Merchants put up decals saying that they're a safe haven," said Hilliard. "You can go there if you are beeing attacked or need help."

In the Western Addition, community activist Sheryl Davis worked with Safety Network to help public housing residents fight rising crime.

"You can't really measure the prevention work that's been done," said Davis. "You can't quantify that, but we're going to begin to see it the effects of not having Safety Network, I'm afraid."

Safety Network was a victim of budget cuts made by the mayor to help balance the city budget. The mayor's office did not respond to ABC7's request for an interview.

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