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Tuesday November 3, 2020 — California General Election
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County

City and County of San Francisco
Proposition E - Majority Approval Required

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Election Results

Passing

299,528 votes yes (71.35%)

120,246 votes no (28.65%)

Shall the City amend the Charter to remove the requirement that the San Francisco Police Department maintain a minimum of 1,971 full-duty sworn police officers and replace the requirement with regular evaluations of police staffing levels?

What is this proposal?

Pros & Cons — Unbiased explanation with arguments for and against

Information provided by League of Women Voters of San Francisco

The Question

Shall the City Charter be amended to remove the current required minimum number of 1,971 full-duty sworn police officers and instead determine future staffing levels through a Police Department evaluation and report to the Police Commission every two years?

Note: This Pro/Con information is also available in Chinese and Spanish.

The Situation

In 1994, San Francisco voters approved Proposition D, which set forth in the City Charter a mandatory police department staffing level of 1,971 sworn officers. This requirement resulted from a 1979 class action settlement to address race and sex discrimination in the department. At the time of the settlement, the force of 1,670 had only 60 women and 200 Black, Asian, or Hispanic officers. The settlement required the police department to set a minimum staffing level of 1,971 officers and maintain that level for three years. It became part of the City Charter in 1994 with the passage of the ballot measure.

The Proposal

If approved, the proposed measure would remove the requirements that the Police Department maintain a minimum number of full-duty sworn police officers and a minimum number of full-duty sworn officers for neighborhood policing, and replace those requirements with regular evaluations of police staffing levels.

 

The measure would require the Chief of Police to submit a report to the Police Commission at least every two years describing the current number of full-duty sworn officers and recommending future officer staffing levels. The report would include current overall staffing, the workload handled by the Police Department’s employees, the department’s public service objectives, the department’s legal duties, and other information the Chief of Police deemed relevant to determining proper staffing levels of full-duty sworn officers.

 

The measure would require the Police Commission to hold a public hearing on the report, and adopt a policy at least once every two years for the Chief of Police to use in evaluating staffing levels. It would further require the Police Commission to consider the staffing report in its approval of the Police Department’s proposed budget every fiscal year, but the Commission would not be required to accept or adopt any of the recommendations in the report.

 

The controller states that the measure would not significantly impact the cost of government and might achieve cost savings by allowing for the reallocation of funding currently set aside to achieve the currently required minimum staffing levels.

 

A “YES” Vote Means: You want to remove the City Charter requirement that the San Francisco Police Department maintain a minimum of 1,971 full-duty sworn officers and replace it with regular evaluations of police staffing levels.

 

A “NO” Vote Means: If you vote “no,” you do not want to make these changes.

Fiscal effect

Controller's statement: sfelections.sfgov.org/sites/default/files/Documents/candidates/2020Nov/Prop%20E%20-%20Police%20Staffing.pdf

Supporters say

 The current required staffing level is arbitrary and not responsive to the current population or neighborhood needs; the process for determining police staffing levels should be data driven.

 This measure would allow for a thorough assessment of community needs by the Police Commission, with public comment, and therefore provide them with more accurate data.

 The current minimum staffing level makes it more challenging for the City to transition to supplementing its police force with social workers and substance use counselors for non-criminal calls.

Opponents say

This measure is a mechanism for the Board of Supervisors to reduce Police Department funding and staffing rather than a true effort to implement data driven staffing determinations.

This Charter amendment is unnecessary because the current minimum staffing level requirements for the SF Police Department have never been met. There is already flexibility to meet additional policing needs.

The required minimum number of police officers should not have been put in the City Charter in the first place.

Details — Official information

YES vote means

A "YES" Vote Means: If you vote "yes," you want to remove the City Charter requirement that the San Francisco Police Department maintain a minimum of 1,971 full-duty sworn police officers and replace the requirement with regular evaluations of police staffing levels.

NO vote means

A "NO" Vote Means: If you vote "no," you do not want to make these changes.

Summary

Ballot Simplification Committee

The Way It Is Now: In 1994, San Francisco voters approved a change to the City Charter (Charter) that requires the San Francisco Police Department (Police Department):

• To have at least 1,971 full-duty sworn police officers; and

• To maintain a minimum number of full-duty sworn police officers for neighborhood policing and patrol.

Among its duties, the San Francisco Police Commission (Police Commission) oversees the budget and staffing of the Police Department.

The Proposal: Proposition E is a Charter amendment that would remove the requirements that the Police Department maintain a minimum number of full-duty sworn police officers and a minimum number of fullduty sworn police officers for neighborhood policing and patrol and replace them with regular evaluations of police staffing levels.

Under Proposition E, the Chief of Police would provide a report to the Police Commission that evaluates the current number of full-duty sworn police officers and the number of officers recommended in the future. The Police Commission would hold a public hearing on the report. 

Financial effect

City Controller Ben Rosenfield

Should the proposed Charter amendment and ordinance be approved by the voters, in my opinion, in and of itself it would not affect the cost of government.

The proposed Charter amendment would eliminate the minimum staffing requirement of 1,971 sworn fullduty officers and instead require the Police Department to prepare a report describing the current number of full-duty sworn officers and recommending staffing levels of full-duty sworn officers.

The report will include an assessment of overall staffing, workload, public service objectives, legal duties, and other relevant information to determining proper staffing levels of full-duty sworn officers. The Police Commission would be required to hold a public hearing to consider the staffing report when approving the Police Department’s proposed budget every fiscal year, but would not be required to accept or adopt any of the recommendations in the report.

The amendment would make it possible for the City to achieve cost savings in the annual budget process by allowing for reallocation of funding that is currently set aside to meet the minimum staffing requirement, and the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors would have additional discretion to use some portion of this funding for any public purpose under the normal budgetary and fiscal provisions of the Charter. The estimated annual salary and fringe benefit cost of a full duty sworn officer is approximately $155,000.

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against

More information

News (3)

San Francisco Public Press — October 6, 2020 Proposition E - November 3, 2020
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Who supports or opposes this measure?

Yes on Proposition E

Organizations (5)

Elected & Appointed Officials (0)
No on Proposition E
Organizations (0)
Elected & Appointed Officials (0)

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