Can posting a sign announcing that something known to be illegal is, indeed, illegal somehow lead to arrests? According to a press release sent by SFPD, apparently they can.
After posting “Drug Free Zone” signs in school-adjacent areas in the Mission and Tenderloin, police say they’ve made an additional 42 arrests on charges of sales of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, as well as possession of weapons
including a knife and gun.
According a 2009 report from the Chron’s CW Nevius, Drug Free Zones are “temporary areas where police have broad powers to break up groups suspected of peddling drugs.”
“Police officers don’t have to see a drug transaction taking place. They only need to ‘reasonably believe’ that two or more people are congregating to ‘use, purchase or sell illegal drugs.’ Officers can go up to those people and tell them they are in violation of the drug-free zone and must disperse. If they don’t, they can be arrested.”
In a 2009 set of recommendations to then-mayor Gavin Newsom, The San Francisco Streets and Neighborhoods Workgroup notes that the Zones were opposed by SF’s public defender’s office.
In this most recent case, SFPD says the late August to mid-November “undercover narcotics investigation” chose places within “1,000 feet of schools as ‘Drug Free Zones’ as defined by section 11353.6 Health & Safety Code.”
If convicted, those 42 people arrested in the Zone could face “an additional punishment of 3, 4, or 5 years at the court’s discretion. This violation is considered an enhancement which will be added consecutively with the original time served if convicted. The end result, the person will receive a longer sentence for committing the violation” within the Drug Free Zone.