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A San Francisco supervisor is proposing a new law that would require foot patrols by police on city streets and on public transit.

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi on Tuesday submitted a ballot measure, signed by four other supervisors, for the June 8 election that would require district police captains to assign officers to foot beat patrols in neighborhoods and on Muni. The law would build on a 2007 pilot foot patrol program.

Mirkarimi said such patrols are proven crime deterrents and help build trust among residents, merchants and community leaders.

“Walking or bicycling police beats or riding Muni should not be a luxury for one of the best-funded per capita police departments in the nation,” Mirkarimi said.

Police Chief George Gascon has said that budgetary constraints make it impossible for foot beat officers to be deployed in every community.

“There is a philosophical difference,” Mirkarimi said. “I think the police (in San Francisco) do not believe in foot patrols.” But he asserted they have been effective in other large cities such as New York and Chicago.

“San Francisco is not Los Angeles,” Mirkarimi said. “Policing strictly by car is not the way to activate community policing in a city like ours.”

“It makes people very happy to see SFPD walking beats in areas that are particularly distressed,” he said.

And though police are already riding some Muni lines, Mirkarimi insisted the current approach offers “nothing with any consistency or continuity.”

Mirkarimi said the proposed law would give “substantial discretion” to police command staff to define and modify foot patrols in response to crime trends and community input.

“I believe in CompStat,” he said, referring to the police department’s newly implemented program, which tracks crime reports in order to hold police accountable and enable quick responses to neighborhood crime trends.

CompStat was begun by former New York City and Los Angeles police Chief William Bratton, under whom Gascon served in Los Angeles as an assistant chief.

Supervisors David Chiu, Eric Mar, John Avalos and David Campos also signed on to the ballot measure, which would require a simple majority vote to pass, Mirkarimi said.

In a related matter, Mirkarimi also requested a hearing on a proposed “sit-lie” ordinance by Gascon, intended to combat street hooliganism in neighborhoods such as the Haight-Ashbury.

Mirkarimi said unanswered questions remain about why anti-loitering and nuisance laws already on the books are not being enforced by police.

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  • bloomsm

    Foot patrols are a great idea. Cops don’t like to walk much, but their presence on the streets makes a huge difference. If the budget isn’t cut, which is still very possible despite the mayor’s promise to the contrary.