Gov. Newsom calls in CA National Guard to help combat SF's ongoing fentanyl crisis

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Saturday, April 22, 2023
CA National Guard called in to help combat SF's fentanyl crisis
Gov. Newsom announces new partnership with the CHP, National Guard, SF police, and district attorney to address the city's fentanyl crisis.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- California Governor Gavin Newsom announced Friday afternoon a new partnership with the California Highway Patrol (CHP), California National Guard (CalGuard), San Francisco Police Department (SFPD), and the San Francisco District Attorney's Office (SFDA) to assist with the ongoing efforts to address the city's fentanyl crisis.

According to the governor, the agreement between all four agencies will focus on "dismantling fentanyl trafficking and disrupting the supply of the deadly drug in the city by holding the operators of large-scale drug trafficking operations accountable."

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San Francisco's drug overdose crisis shows no signs of slowing in 2023, according to the chief medical examiner's recent reports.

"Two truths can co-exist at the same time: San Francisco's violent crime rate is below comparably sized cities like Jacksonville and Fort Worth - and there is also more we must do to address public safety concerns, especially the fentanyl crisis," said Governor Gavin Newsom. "We're taking action. Through this new collaborative partnership, we are providing more law enforcement resources and personnel to crack down on crime linked to the fentanyl crisis, holding the poison peddlers accountable, and increasing law enforcement presence to improve public safety and public confidence in San Francisco."

As part of the agreement, Newsom has directed the CHP to identify ways SFPD can combat the fentanyl crisis through technical assistance, training and drug trafficking enforcement within key areas of the city, including the Tenderloin.

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"The San Francisco Police Department has been working hard to stop drug trafficking by making countless arrests and narcotics seizures," said San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott. "Despite our ongoing work and close collaboration with the District Attorney, the fentanyl crisis has contributed to hundreds of drug overdose-related deaths. We welcome the support of our state partners because when we work together we can make a significant difference to make our city safer."

The CalGuard has been directed by the governor to identify personnel and resources that will help dismantle fentanyl trafficking rings.

"The CalGuard is seeing significant success supporting multiagency task forces interdicting fentanyl across our state," said Major General Matthew P. Beevers of the California National Guard. "We expect to achieve the same success working with our partners in San Francisco."

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This announcement comes after Newsom made a surprise visit this week to the Tenderloin and South of Market neighborhoods, which are rife with drug use and dealing.

The San Francisco Chief Medical Examiner's most recent reports show more than 130 people died of a drug overdose in January and February combined in the city. Last year just over 100 people died of an overdose in the first two months; the year before that 135 people and in each of those years nearly 650 died of a drug overdose - a number that could be exceeded if 2023's pace keeps up.

Last year, the San Francisco Department of Public Health says its street teams responded to more than 2,200 911 calls, 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 Tenderloin, using city resources to crack down on drug dealing.

Stay with ABC7 News for the latest details on this developing story.