Presidio, GGNRA unsafe for visitors due to staffing crisis, labor union says

The San Francisco field office is supposed to have 83 sworn officers. Currently, there are just 32 - and only 11 on patrol.

ByAnser Hassan KGO logo
Thursday, May 26, 2022
Presidio unsafe for visitors due to staffing crisis, labor union says
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San Francisco Presidio, Golden Gate National Recreational Area deemed unsafe for visitors due to staffing crisis, labor union says.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Even in the month of May, one can expect fog and gusty winds in Crissy Fields in San Francisco's Presidio. But one thing that most do not expect is crime.

"I come here to walk. And no, I have never felt unsafe - in decades," explains Jamie, a Marin resident who comes to the park to walk with friends.

But the union representing park police wants people to stay away.

RELATED: 65% of Bay Area residents say fear of crime keeps them from visiting big city downtowns

"Right now, my officers are not safe because they don't have enough people to conduct the mission out there. And if they are not safe, the public certainly isn't safe," says Kenneth Spencer, Chairman of the United States Park Police Fraternal Order of Police, or USPPFOP.

Spencer issued a warning, in which he writes, "Due to an officer staffing crisis at the agency's San Francisco Field Office, families should avoid unnecessary travel to the Golden Gate National Recreational Area and the Presidio. Simply put, they are not safe."

"I just looked at detail from 2005. We had eight officers on duty every day, on all shifts. Right now, we have three total. And they are supposed to be at the Presidio," says Spencer, in an interview with ABC7 News.

VIDEO: Here's why one of SF's top officers says crime is here to stay

He says the San Francisco field office is supposed to have 83 sworn officers. Currently, there are just 32 - and only 11 on patrol.

"(Crissy Fields) isn't a place that I would think would require a lot of police. It doesn't occur to me that there would a lot of crime here. So, even hearing that, I think it still doesn't concern me," says Jamie.

But Spencer says patrons should be concerned. According to the USPPFOP, just from October 2021 to April 2022, there have been 9,511 calls for service, more than 3,000 for emergencies, 193 for burglaries and 114 for fires.

RELATED: SFFD urges public to avoid calling 911 for non-emergencies amid staff shortages

"During the daytime, I feel fine. But I probably wouldn't come out here at night," says Samara Lee, who lives in San Francisco.

In an email to ABC7 News, the Golden Gate National Reaction Association, or GGNRA, says they "disagree with the assertion of the FOP," and that public safety is its top priority.

Twiname goes on to say that USPP current staffing in San Francisco includes patrol officers, detectives, identification technicians, canine officers and horse mounted officers.

He admits that USPP has seen a decrease in staffing over the past decade, adding that, "Restoring staffing capacity across the National Park Service is apriority of NPS leadership and is reflected in the 2022 and 2023 NPS budget requests."

Spencer says the big issue is pay. He says U.S. Park Police officers' starting salary is $67,769 a year, compared to the San Francisco Police Department, with a starting salary of $92,560.

Spencer hopes a new bipartisan bill in Congress will help with staffing.

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