Resolution calls for raising the minimum police staffing level from 1,971 to a minimum of 2,200 officers. While San Francisco’s population has grown significantly, as have crime rates, police staffing has gone down, and San Francisco has less staffing than peer cities. Report by Controller shows need for increased police staffing by hundreds of officers.


San Francisco, CA – Today the Board of Supervisors passed a resolution calling for significantly increased police staffing levels to reflect San Francisco’s significant population growth, including adjusting the definition of “minimum staffing” upward by several hundred officers. The resolution, which was sponsored by Supervisors Scott Wiener, Malia Cohen, and Mark Farrell, was passed by a vote of 6-5, with Supervisors John Avalos, David Campos, Jane Kim, Eric Mar and Norman Yee opposing. 

“We need more police walking beats in our neighborhoods, enforcing traffic laws in our streets, and responding to the rising number of property crimes in our communities,” said Supervisor Wiener. “By voting to increase our police staffing policy goals, the Board made clear today that we must respond to our city’s growing needs by continuing to fund and support our police department.”

The current number of sworn full duty officers in San Francisco is 1,730, down from 1,951 in 2010.  This staffing places San Francisco behind peer cities such as Washington, DC, Chicago, and Philadelphia in terms of police officers per capita, as shown in a report conducted by the Controller’s Office, which can be read here.  As a result of this severe decline in staffing – at a time when San Francisco’s population has grown and when new neighborhoods have been created – the police department is under-staffed.  This under-staffing has led to a reduction in beat-walking and traffic enforcement, as well as less focus on property crimes.

As San Francisco works to get back to acceptable police staffing levels, the question becomes what is the right staffing level. The City Charter as adopted in 1994 defines full staffing as 1,971 officers. Yet, that number is now outdated, since San Francisco has grown significantly since 1994 – from 742,000 to 841,000, an increase of 13.3%. Supervisor Wiener and Cohen’s resolution takes that population growth into account by redefining full police staffing as over 2,200 (i.e., 13.3% above the 1,971 minimum staffing level set in 1994).

Recently, the Controller’s Office released a report – requested by Supervisors Wiener and Cohen – containing an analysis of police staffing levels in San Francisco, including comparisons to other jurisdictions. Peer cities included in the survey include Washington D.C., Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Miami, Dallas, and Oakland.  The report found:

-          San Francisco’s population has increased 12% from 2004 to 2014, while the police sworn staffing decreased 3% in that time frame

-          SF has lower sworn and civilian staffing rates than several peer cities, including Washington DC, Chicago, Philadelphia, Newark, Boston, and Dallas.

-          San Francisco has the second highest crime rate per resident and per daytime population of peer cities surveyed

  • San Francisco’s property crime rate is second highest of the peer cities
  • Property crime rates per 100,000 residents has increased significant from 2011 to 2013

Since taking office, Supervisors Wiener and Cohen have worked with Mayor Lee and other Supervisors to increase the number of police academy classes in order to improve department staffing levels. The department shrunk to under 1,700 officers and is now growing again. The department is projected to reach 2,000 officers in 2018.

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