Reclaim South San Francisco: Defund and Demilitarize SSFPD

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On May 25, 2020, our nation was traumatized by yet another murder of an unarmed Black American, George Floyd. Millions took to the streets demanding not only justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others murdered at the hands of the state, but for a systemic makeover of how we as a society conduct public safety. 

The South San Francisco community is no stranger to police violence. In 2012, Derrick Gaines, a 15-year-old, was brutally murdered by Joshua Cabillo, an officer with the South San Francisco Police Department (SSFPD). Despite being fired from the SSFPD, Cabillo still works to this day as an officer with the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD), where he has continued to terrorize the community while on the city’s payroll.

The SSFPD budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019-2020 was $31 million, which was 25.5% of the city’s entire budget. For FY 2020-21, the city is proposing a budget of $31 million for SSFPD—29.8% of the entire budget. With this money, the SSFPD plans to use $60,000 for ammunition, $67,000 for new handguns, and $170,000 for the purchase of four additional police cars. Meanwhile, South San Francisco’s budgets for libraries, parks & recreation, and economic & community development are facing cuts that total to $5 million.

Major cities across the nation have been responding to the people’s cry for justice and change. The Minneapolis City Council has announced their commitment to disbanding their police force; New York City has pledged to reduce the NYPD budget by $1.1 billion; Seattle City Councilmembers are proposing cuts of up to 50%; and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who had initially proposed a funding increase, is now planning on cutting the LAPD budget by $150 million. Additionally, Los Angeles will develop a new group of first responders composed of unarmed social workers to answer non-violent calls. Currently, the California State Assembly has the opportunity to pass the C.R.I.S.E.S. (Community Response Initiative to Strengthen Emergency Systems) Act Pilot grant program, which will promote community-based responses to local emergency situations. Closer to home, San Francisco is also planning to divest from the SFPD and redirect funds to the African American community, demilitarize the police, and end the use of police as a response to non-criminal activity. Today, South San Francisco has a responsibility to demonstrate their commitment to creating a safe and equitable community for all.

We, the people of South San Francisco, demand that Mayor Garbarino, Vice Mayor Mark Addiego, and the City Council commit to divesting from the South San Francisco Police Department by reducing the police budget by 30%. We also demand that the city reinvests in essential programs such as COVID-19 relief, affordable housing, educational enrichment, public transportation, resources to address substance use disorder, and other community programs. The demonstrations across the nation have made it clear that there is a need for change. We refuse to be silent in the midst of injustice. The city of South San Francisco can and should be at the forefront of revolutionizing and reimagining our system of public safety.

Stay updated and get involved with CHANGE SSF here

There are a series of actions that our city can undertake now that can drastically improve our policing situation. Our demands are as follows: 

  • Begin the process of defunding the SSFPD by reallocating general funds out of the police budget and into programs that will directly benefit our community members (affordable housing, jobs, youth programs, restorative justice, mental health and wellness facilities, schools, etc.).

SSFPD 

  • Freeze SSFPD hiring of officers indefinitely, including incoming police academy candidates/graduates.
    • Specifically, make reductions to salary to allocate for social workers and other community workers.
  • Restrict SSFPD from hiring officers who were previously fired or who resigned while being investigated for serious misconduct and/or excessive force. 
  • Ban paid leave for officers being investigated for misconduct.
    Set up a public advisory board with the power to amend PD union agreements in the interest of ensuring public safety.
  • Ban city funds from being spent on the assessment or construction of any police buildings or corp yards.
  • Ban unauthorized overtime for SSFPD.
  • Ban general fund money from being used to pay legal settlements resulting from police murder, misconduct, and negligence.
  • Publicly disclose records of police misconduct & discipline immediately.
  • Change mutual aid policy to prevent SSFPD from sending city officers to other cities’ protests.
  • Ban SSFPD use of tear gas and rubber bullets.
  • End criminalization and targeting of Black and Brown people by the SSFPD.
    • Hire a data analyst to assess the data of those involved in all disciplinary police interactions and arrests, and to identify disproportionate policing for historically. over-policed communities to be presented annually to the public, and identify problematic officers and tactics. 
  • Demilitarize SSFPD: Restrict police from receiving military weapons from the federal government including, but not limited to, tanks, armored vehicles, drones, grenade launchers, aircraft.
  • Ban city funds from being used to maintain the Corvette.
  • Deny budget requests for upgrades of handguns ($67,000).

City Council

  • Redistribute 30% of the police budget to non-police, community-based services outside of the police department (City of South San Francisco Community Resources 1 | Page).
  • Establish an independent review board with termination power and ability to recommend disciplinary actions, whose raw data & analysis are published yearly. 
    • California already requires every PD to report every stop, search, arrest & use of force to a state database. This includes officer ID, location, perceived race, age, gender, gender identity, disability status.
  • Invest in mental health and wellness programs to promote real safety and healing for SSF youth.
  • Publicly disclose all civil asset forfeitures.
  • If in the future, budget cuts need to be made across the board, no city worker should be furloughed without pay while the police department continues to operate with no furloughs or pay cuts. 
  • Prioritize the urgent need for affordable housing for families and teachers in South San Francisco.
    • Don't allow new housing developments without any affordable units.
    • Provide rental subsidies for teachers in SSFUSD to decrease teacher turnover rates.
    • Provide rental subsidies for families that are classified as low-income, very low-income, and extremely low-income (as defined by San Mateo County).
  • Establish a city-wide, participatory committee for all residents (regardless of citizenship status) that will dictate how to reallocate more monies taken from the police budget into non-police, community-based services for FY 2021.
  • Develop a concrete plan through SSF city council in collaboration with community members, experts and longtime practitioners in the various fields of social services on how they will carry out these demands with a reassessment of the budget and specific itemized changes.