‘Public health calamity’: San Francisco Mayor London Breed asks federal government for help amid city’s drug crisis

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — Mayor of London Breed is asking for a federal lifeline when it comes to curbing San Francisco’s ongoing drug crisis. It comes as the city’s police department struggles with a staff shortage.

“I hope we can partner and work together to solve this important problem,” Breed said.

Breed admits San Francisco needs help slowing down the drug trade that happens on the streets every day. She just wrote a letter to the new U.S. Attorney for Northern California, Ismail Ramsey, saying the problem is beyond the city’s control.

“We really need help. When you look at the police department, they’re understaffed,” Breed said. “The arrests – there’s a whole process that comes into play. Having the ability to handle the challenges has been difficult.”

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Breed says the city needs additional and continued support from the Justice Department to arrest and prosecute drug dealers. All of this at a time when the fentanyl overdose epidemic has taken outdoor drug trafficking to a new level.

The San Francisco Department of Public Health tweeted that its street crews responded to more than 2,200 911 calls last year, treating overdoses and providing medical, mental health and addiction treatment.

In 2021, Breed declared a three-month emergency due to the city’s Tenderloin drug crisis, using city resources to suppress drug trafficking.

“All the pieces we need to make this effective weren’t there. I’m optimistic about the future,” Breed said.

District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said drug prosecutions are increasing in her office, but added that federal assistance is welcome.

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In a statement to ABC7 News, Jenkins said, “No agency or department can tackle the drug trafficking crisis and the impacts it is having in and on our communities alone.”

“This is a public health calamity the likes of which we haven’t seen since the AIDS crisis,” said SF Supervisor Matt Dorsey.

Dorsey supports the mayor’s appeal for federal help. He says that in the past three years, 2,000 people have died from drug overdoses in San Francisco.

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“If we had that many San Franciscans slaughtered on our street, there’s no question the President of the United States and the Governor would have the National Guard here,” Dorsey said.

Dorsey hopes a meeting with the mayor and the US Attorney’s office can take place soon.

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