'Public health calamity': SF Mayor Breed asks for federal assistance with city's drug crisis

ByCornell Barnard KGO logo
Sunday, April 2, 2023
SF mayor asks for federal assistance with city's drug crisis
Mayor London Breed is asking for a federal lifeline when it comes to curbing San Francisco's ongoing drug crisis

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Mayor London Breed is asking for a federal lifeline when it comes to curbing San Francisco's ongoing drug crisis. This is happening as the city's police department struggles with understaffing.

"My hope is we can partner and work together to address this important issue," Breed said.

Breed admits San Francisco needs help to slow drug dealing that's happening every day on the streets. She just wrote a letter to the newly appointed U.S. Attorney for Northern California Ismail Ramsey, saying the problem is beyond the city's control.

"We definitely need help. When we look at the police department, it is short staffed," Breed said. "Arrests -- there's a whole process that goes into that. Having the capacity to meet the challenges has been difficult."

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Breed says the city needs additional and ongoing support from the Department of Justice to both arrest and prosecute drug dealers. This is all at a time when the Fentanyl-driven overdose epidemic has brought open-air drug dealing to a new level.

The San Francisco Department of Public Health tweeted that its street teams responded to more than 2,200 911 calls last year, treating overdoses and providing medical, mental health and medications for addiction.

In 2021, Breed declared a three-month emergency over the drug crisis in the city's Tenderloin, using city resources to crack down on drug dealing.

"All the pieces that we need to make that effective weren't there. I'm optimistic about future," Breed said.

District Attorney Brooke Jenkins says drug dealing prosecutions are increasing at her office but adds federal assistance is welcome.

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In a statement to ABC7 News, Jenkins said, "No single agency or department is able to tackle the crisis of drug dealing and the impacts it's having in and on our communities alone."

"It's a public health calamity we have not seen since the AIDS crisis," said SF Supervisor Matt Dorsey.

Dorsey supports the mayor's plea for federal help. He says that over the last three years, 2,000 people have died from drug overdoses in San Francisco.

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"If we had that many San Franciscans gunned down in our street, no question the president of the United States and the governor would have the National Guard here," Dorsey said.

Dorsey hopes a meeting with the mayor and U.S. Attorney's office can happen soon.

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