San Francisco Board approves Mayor's Emergency Order over Opioids

SAN FRANCISCO (AP), The Board of Supervisors has approved an emergency order to address the opioid epidemic in San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood. However, some are concerned that the declaration could be used by the mayor for criminalization of homeless people, addicts, or both.

San Francisco Board approves Mayor's Emergency Order over Opioids

After a marathon 10 hour debate and public comment, the vote was 8-2 shortly after midnight Friday. The Department of Emergency Management is authorized to re-allocate staff in the city and to bypass regulations regarding contracting and permits to establish a temporary center that will allow people to access extended drug treatment and counseling.

The Mayor London Breed pledged to flood the area with police officers to stop crime. This is what some residents want, and advocates for the homeless and drug users called on supervisors to refuse the emergency order. Although drug possession is a misdemeanor offense and rarely enforced, the mayor said that some drug users could end up in jail.

The board approved the declaration and declared the crisis caused by the oversupply of cheap fentanyl to be a crisis. Overdose was the leading cause of death in San Francisco last year, surpassing COVID-19.

Matt Haney, the supervisor representing the neighborhood before the vote, said that he knew it was a difficult, traumatic, and emotional conversation. He expressed hope that the city would bring all of its "innovations, unyielding compassionate and relentless determination" in order to address the crisis.

Although several supervisors raised objections to the Board President Shamann Walton, Dean Preston voted against. They expressed dismay at the lack of information and scarcity of treatment beds and claimed that too much police would cause harm to African Americans and the homeless.

Walton, who is the only African American member of the board, stated that he would like to see more attention paid to homicides within his district. This includes the historically Black neighborhoods of Bayview, Hunters Point, and Hunters Point.

The Tenderloin contains museums, the main library, and government offices including City Hall. It is also home to many homeless people, marginally housed people, and a large concentration of drug dealers.

Police Chief Bill Scott assured supervisors that there is no need to increase police force and that the order does not require increased police. He said that police cannot ignore the fact that people are using poisonous drugs and children are afraid to leave their homes.

Scott stated, "We're there to help." "We are not there to ignore people who kill themselves on the streets," Scott said.

The mayor announced the emergency declaration last Wednesday, saying it was time for people to stop using drugs openly.

She said this on social media: "But they refuse, then we're going to not allow them to use on the street." "The families of the neighborhood deserve better."

Breed has pledged to open a supervised site for drug consumption as well as a sobering centre. The emergency management department will coordinate the response in the same way it coordinated efforts to combat the pandemic. It will in part streamline emergency medical calls, stop drug dealing and use, as well as ensure that streets remain clean.

Since 2018, overdose deaths in San Francisco have increased by more than 200%. Last year, over 700 people died in San Francisco from drug overdoses. This is more than the COVID-19-related deaths, according to the proclamation.

According to the proclamation, nearly 600 people died from drug overdoses in this year's first nine months. Nearly half of these deaths occurred in the Tenderloin or the South of Market area. These areas account for 7% of San Francisco's total population.

In the aftermath of George Floyd's 2020 murder, many politically liberal American cities are struggling with crime. Their elected leaders promised ways to reduce friction between police officers and communities of color, especially African Americans like Floyd.

San Francisco DA Chesa Bodin joined the public defender to protest the mayor's plan. She said that people with mental illness, addictions, and homelessness will not work. They ask her to spend the money on more treatment beds, shelters and job training, as well as other social services.

Jeannette Zanipatin from California, the Drug Policy Alliance director, stated that "what we see today in the Tenderloin wasn't something that happened overnight" and was the result of years of massive disinvestment.

The emergency order will be in effect for 90 days.

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