Open letter to San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and MUNI Executive Director Nathaniel P. Ford

December 15, 2009

Hon. Gavin Newsom, Mayor
City Hall, Room 200
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102
Telephone: (415) 554-6141 gavin.newsom@sfgov.org

Hon. Bevan Dufty, Supervisor
Board of Supervisors
City and County of San Francisco
City Hall, Room 224
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102
Telephone: (415) 554-5184 bevan.dufty@sfgov.org

Mr. Nathaniel P. Ford, Sr., Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer
MUNI, City and County of San Francisco
1 South Van Ness Avenue, 7th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103
Telephone: (415)-701-4500 MTABoard@SFMTA.com

December 14, 2009

Re: Proposal for Strategic Alliance of MUNI with Patrol Special Police
to Address New Crime Wave on Public Buses

Dear Mayor Newsom, Supervisor Dufty, and Mr. Ford:

I’m writing to offer the wholehearted support and cooperation of the Patrol Special Police force in a strategic partnership to quickly and effectively address the recent surge of violent and fear-provoking personal attacks on the MUNI. As Executive Director Ford stated in a recent Mayor’s press release, “We will continue to work closely with our police partners to make sure the Muni system is safe and secure for our customers.” (See http://www.sfmayor.org/press-room/press-releases/press-release-j-church/)

The Patrol Special Police are one such police partner. The immediate addition of our uniformed and armed Officers on various public buses will provide a visible and extended police presence beyond what our burdened public police and the MUNI can now provide.

The Patrol Special Police have a number of experienced police officers available at moderate cost and ready now to serve. With your assistance in expediting the SFPD review of applicants to join our service, we propose to have a substantial number of additional officers available over the next six to twelve months.

Employing our effective, trained neighborhood policing force on MUNI buses has received favorable consideration in the past. Now it time to convert consideration into a reality, in service to all San Franciscans who use public transit.

Please consider our preliminary attached Position Paper and Proposal. We invite your call to discuss the details and immediate implementation of a specific program of collaboration.

Very truly yours,

Officer Jane Warner
President, Association of Patrol Special Police Officers
Chair, Special Neighborhood Policing Professional Support Group
584 Castro Street, PMB 606, San Francisco, CA 94114
Phone: (415) 559-9955 Email: sfpatrol@earthlink.net
Websites: sfspecialneighborhoodpolicing.org http://sfpatrolspecpolice.com/

cc: Police Chief George Gascon
850 Bryant Street, Room 500, San Francisco, CA. 94103
Telephone: (415)553-1551 sfpd.online@sfgov.org
Hon. Joe Marshall, President, San Francisco Police Commission
850 Bryant Street, Room 549, San Francisco, CA. 94103
Telephone: (415) 553-1171 sfpd.commission@sfgov.org
Mr. Tom Nolan, SFMTA Board Chairman
1 South Van Ness Avenue, 7th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103
Telephone: (415) 415-701-4500 MTABoard@SFMTA.com
Mr. Kevin Ryan, Deputy Chief of Staff, Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice
City Hall, Room 496, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, San Francisco, CA 94102
Telephone: (415) Kevin.Ryan@sfgov.org 415-554-6564

*/ Position Paper and Proposal for MUNI Service by the Patrol Special Police /*
December 14, 2009
Contact: Officer Jane Warner (415) 559-9955 sfpatrol@earthlink.net

The Patrol Special police force is committed to work in cooperation with all public and private safety resources to help San Francisco respond to the current series of criminal attacks on our public MUNI buses, in order to quickly restore calm and help prevent further attacks.

Once again, residents and visitors are being targeted on buses. Those attacks not only cause untold personal damage to individual victims, but also victimize the entire city by decreasing public confidence in an otherwise nationally noteworthy and effective city bus system.

It is not possible to know the full extent of the physical and spiritual cost and suffering of each recent victim. However, the Patrol Special Police care deeply about those individuals as well as about all San Franciscans.

We believe that every citizen has a right to live free of fear and in safety for his or her person, family, property, business, and community – and that includes when riding on the public transit system.

We note that MUNI faces a particularly grave present challenge because:

– more unsuspecting women are being targeted with weapons:
A 24-year old sleeping woman was stabbed while riding the J Church line. Authorities believe perpetrator used a knife in the three earlier incidents. On Dec. 14, 2004, he was accused of punching a woman for no reason as she waited for train doors to open at the MacArthur BART Station in Oakland, BART spokesman Linton Johnson said. He was arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor battery, and although no charges were filed, he was sent back to state prison on a parole violation. (SF Chronicle December 3, 2009 http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/12/02/BAPF1ATVOU.DTL&tsp=1
From Ingleside Police Captain Lazar’s daily crime report for Nov. 20:
9:00 am Church @ 27th Street, Robbery with a gun, Officer Morgante was sent to investigate a robbery case. The victim told officers she boarded Muni and that she had her I-Phone in her hand. The suspect stood in front of her and pulled out a revolver. The suspected took her phone and then fled in an unknown direction. Report number 091194488.
– our young are now being targeted:
Boy, 11, repeatedly stabbed on first solo Muni ride as he rode home from baseball practice. Mother notes: “It takes so long, meanwhile, he hit another victim, the lady, it’s very sad.” (see above source)
– artists and creative residents who bring so much pride to our city are being targeted: “Actor playing thug brutally beaten on S.F. bus,” and
– our community leaders are also affected:
“Former Pride president assaulted on Muni.”

To quickly address this problem and restore community calm and confidence, and without one doubt, it is imperative for city leaders to identify and rely now more than ever on all existing, trained, available, and cost-effective safety resources.

The Patrol Special Police provide just such a safety resource for the following reasons.

First, our officers are trained and experienced in proactive, trusted neighborhood policing. We have worked in close cooperation with public police to supplement and expand their services in local neighborhoods we serve.

Second, we provide effective additional policing services that are designed to solve small incidents before they become large crimes.

Third, while our services are paid for by private businesses, organizations, and individual clients including the occasional city office client – our services benefit the entire neighborhood where we patrol: we come to the aid of any person in distress and can effect arrest when and as necessary for public safety (see, description of nature and extent of our services:
http://www.sfspecialneighborhoodpolicing.org/Services-business.html
http://www.sfspecialneighborhoodpolicing.org/Services-resident.html).

Fourth, our many satisfied clients across the city enthusiastically attest to the effective and welcome nature of our particular, responsive, trusted policing model. Those clients have recently and heartily endorsed our services in an independent academic survey conducted by Professor Edward Stringham of San Jose State University. (Preliminary results reported by Professor Stringham via email to the Patrol Special Police, October 2009)

Professor Stringham conducted a survey of about 1/5 of our total city-wide clients and received an amazing return rate of 43%. He found that:

1. The Patrol Special Police provide services that members of the S.F.P.D. do not provide.
2. The S.F.P.D. does not respond to quickly to many types of calls whereas the Patrol Special Police does.
3. Crime is viewed as a problem, and the Patrol Special Police are seen as a proactive rather than a reactive solution to that problem.

In addition, ninety-seven percent of survey respondents answered “Yes” when asked, “Does your Patrol Special Police Officer make your neighborhood a more friendly and safe place?”

Fifth, Patrol Special Police provide particular value to the private client and also to the public client when we serve a public agency such as MUNI, because:

– we provide protection at less than half the rate ($48/hr.) of overtime public policing services in the off-duty officer program (an effective rate of $109/hr. with a 22% administrative charge levied in addition thereto).

– our officers commence each assignment with full, vigilant, and focused attention to their policing duties; we never come on board with reduced alertness due to having served another full-time assignment elsewhere.

– clients and taxpayers are protected by our policies of full liability coverage carried by the Patrol Special Police at no cost to the public budget.

Finally, while public police constitute a crucial and effective tool in addressing crime on MUNI, they are expensive in terms of civil service salaries that are among the highest in the United States, and costly when considering future pension obligations. In addition, taxpayers have also been paying for overtime abuse,
something Police Chief Gascon is investigating; see December 3, 2009 Channel 7 new report by Vic Lee. (1,2)

Accordingly, city political and administrative leaders must expend scarce public resources wisely by judiciously deploying public police where they can be most effective based on their organizational culture and training. In addition, city leaders must consider all viable options for delivery safety services, and not place the entire burden of managing the current challenge of increased MUNI crime on our public police forces.

The challenge for city leaders to carefully sheppard our public budget achieves greater significance in a declining economy. Critically strained resources are needed to address not only public safety needs, but also fund other deserving social programs in areas concerning health, education, and services for the elderly and disabled. Public funds simply cannot be wasted.

In April of this year MUNI Executive Director Nathanial P. Ford called it a “dire situation” and said that “SFMTA is grappling with a $128.9 million budget deficit for fiscal year 2010, which begins this July 1.” (see,http://www.sfmta.com/cms/aexec/MessagetoEmployeesSFMTABudgetDeficit.htm). Accordingly, he intended to consider “a broad range of options to increase revenues and reduce costs.” However, seven months later a December 5 news item on local Channel 7 reported that MUNI still faced a 129 million dollar deficit.

SFMTA is not the only agency impacted. San Franciscans are aware of recently-announced budget cutbacks scheduled for each department of approximately 3.9% (Discussion at the Police Commission regular meeting on December 3, 2009 regarding proposed cut-backs in the Office of Citizen Complaints).

The wisdom of using Patrol Special Police has been discussed and/or noted time and again by city administrators and leaders including Mayors, who have in every case unfortunately for citizen safety, decided not to take advantage of our offer.(3) It is beyond time for a wiser course of action to be taken.

Through demonstrated effectiveness, Patrol Special Police can provide the same type and level of proactive, prompt, yet friendly police presence as we currently provide to existing clients, to serve all San Franciscans and help prevent and quell crime on MUNI buses.

Patrol Special Police provide a cost-effective, program-effective service and are ready now to serve.
______
(1) Professor Edward Stringham writes, “As of 2007 the S.F.P.D. had 1,784 employees making more than $100,000 per year and of those, 396 were earning more than $150,000 per year. These figures fall well above the $47,460 median salary of police officers in the United States, not to mention the income of the average person in San Francisco which was at that time only $36,000. (SFPD annual report retrieved September 1, 2009 from http://www.sfgov.org/site/uploadedfiles/police/information/annual_report_2007.pdf)
Not only do taxpayers pay for the higher cost of monopolized policing today, they are also taking on obligations to pay lifetime pensions for public police after retirement, and to their survivors for the indefinite future. To the contrary, when Patrol Special Police serve, taxpayers do not become obligated for future payouts of pension costs.”
(2) Channel 7 reporter Vic Lee on December 3, 2009 found that in October, the last reporting month, the San Francisco Police Department incurred $1.6 million in overtime; year to date, $5.7 million. “To the extent we have abuses in overtime spending, we need to rein it in quickly and we need to have an all hands on deck mentality,” Supervisor John Avalos said. However, no
one could tell Reporter Lee just how much taxpayer money might have been paid out as overtime in this investigation, and Lee reports that “it may be a substantial amount.” http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/local/san_francisco&id=715451
(3) – September 1994 Patrol Special Police offer to serve on MUNI. Had the city accepted, it would have then deployed 100 officers in place of only 50 for roughly the same $1.1 million budget. The Patrol Special offer was sent to Mayor Frank Jordan and Supervisor Tom Hsieh. Supervisor Hsieh stated he never received the proposal. Mayor’s office stated the proposal was just never pursued. (S.F. Chronicle article of November 20, 1995)
– November 20, 1995, Lawsuit by man suffering serious brain damage, who charged that MUNI failed to put auxiliary Patrol Special Police on buses. Plaintiff’s lawyer said: “It shows the huge gap between the political rhetoric about dedication to public safety and the reality of failures to commit available resources.” (S.F. Chronicle article of same date).
November 21, 1995 Editorial: “Of all the problems that beleaguer San Francisco’s Municipal Railway, nothing is so troubling to its 697,000 daily passengers as the violence and crime that make a ride on some lines an exercise in urban survival. So it came as a jolt yesterday to learn that the city had rejected a proposal that would have replaced 50 regular police officers with 100 uniformed auxiliary police on buses, trains and streetcars at no additional cost to taxpayers.” (S.F. Chronicle article of same date).
– January 7, 1996, Mayor-elect Willie Brown said: “My police chief will embrace this idea and implement my recommendation (to put Patrol Special Police on MUNI buses) the day after . . . I’m sworn in.” (S.F. Chronicle article of same date).
January 23, 1996 official press release of Mayor Brown’s office revealed: “dramatic new plan to increase police presence on MUNI….Once fully trained, Patrol Special officers will be assigned to specific beats – bus lines, transit stops, and other areas affected by Muni-related crime – where they will work alongside SFPD officers. The number of Patrol Special officers and the extent of their participation will be announced later.” Unfortunately, this plan never came to fruition.

* * * *


Hello world!

June 18, 2009

Greetings! As a long time, satisfied client of the SF Patrol Special Police Officer program, I’m happy to welcome them to the blogosphere! I hope to participate in their progressive dialog about just how ’special’ their cost-effective, culture-sensitive public safety services are for me and many others in San Francisco, and how they can be of help to new clients who now, more than ever before, need safety information and support from a declining police force!

City-wide as nation-wide, we are all suffering from a dismal economy. It spells continuing cutbacks in public services (305 officers from SFPD slated for lay-offs in June), and layoffs of government-employed public servants like our SFPD and Firefighters, whose services are surely welcomed and needed, but in specified and focused ways.

So too, are the Patrol Specials’ services needed–but not as a replacement for the SFPD. They are complementary to the SFPD. Patrol Specials provide service in a distinctly unique way in accord with San Franciscan-style culture and values. Patrol Special officers care about the culture of the district they serve, and reflect the lifestyle-choice tolerance and compassion for individuals that San Francisco has come to represent in the nation, and in the world.

Patrol Special services are focused on low-cost, highly-effective crime-prevention and order maintenance policing services. Officers go about their business of staying put and getting to know us. They don’t run off to City Hall to answer incident-driven calls for service, or fill out paperwork, or attend Captain’s meetings. They answer our calls, they attend our community meetings, they comply with our priorities and needs.

In sum, the Patrol Specials listen to us, and watch out for those of us who voluntarily pay a small sum for additional policing service of a very special, responsive kind. But they–and we who foot their bill–also benefit by extension the entire district they serve, and without regard to who pays and who does not!

They do so with a careful eye toward our specific priorities in an old-fashioned, participatory and democratic way. They adjust their approach to comply with our specific district culture.

And that’s not always been the case when pre-determined policing services and priorities come down to us from afar, from a City Hall that often spends as much time casting an eye toward politician’s priorities, as they do our own individual well-being.

Governmentally-sponsored policing servants usually have to also cast an eye on larger ‘fish to fry’ such as the threats coming gang warfare and the development of American terrorism. That’s what they are trained for, that’s what they are experienced in, and that’s where we need them, doing what they do best (most of the time!).

But the Patrol Specials also must do what they do best: provide the essence of true ‘community based; policing. In fact, they ARE the very definition of ‘community police’ — and now’s the time to seize advantage of their City Charter status, their unbroken 161-year history of admirable service to San Franciscans, and help them grow. I hope to do just that!