New SF supervisor pushes for police crackdown in ‘drug enforcement priority areas’

San Francisco’s newest supervisor pushes plan for police to prioritize apprehending drug dealers and confiscating illegal drugs from users in areas where people seek help with drug addiction .

The plan is part of a larger ‘right to recovery’ initiative that supervisor Matt Dorsey is drafting as he tries to deal with the fentanyl crisis unfolding in SoMa and other parts. of his district where overdoses are high and city officials want to connect more people to treatment.

Dorsey, who is recovering, said her goal was to make it easier for people to access treatment without being close to using or dealing drugs in public.

Dorsey sent a letter Tuesday to City Attorney David Chiu asking for his office’s help in drafting legislation that would create “drug enforcement priority zones” around facilities that serve people with addiction-related disorders. substance or alcohol use.

A former police spokesman appointed by the mayor of London Breed in May, Dorsey said the legislation would not change any drug laws. In the zones, the police would be asked to immediately confiscate users’ drugs and paraphernalia – whether cited or not – and immediately arrest anyone selling illegal drugs.

“You are never more vulnerable than when you have made the decision to seek help for drug addiction or alcoholism,” Dorsey told The Chronicle. “It is not for a bad reason that these types of establishments are often found in neighborhoods where there is a lot of drug use. . But we must be sensitive and protective of those who take this courageous step and ask ourselves : what are we doing to support them? »

Dorsey appears to be taking a page from Breed’s recent playbook. After Tenderloin residents and businesses lobbied for City Hall to tackle crime, drugs and homelessness in the area, the mayor declared a neighborhood emergency in December. At the time, she argued that the police had a role to play in tackling drug use and trafficking as part of the initiative. She also lobbied for more treatment beds, behavioral health workers and street teams to help people struggling with addiction.

Yet the Tenderloin Center in Breed, where people on the streets can access services, has been criticized for allowing drug use in a place where treatment is offered and for putting very few people in contact to help them. . In the center’s first five months, there were more than 49,000 visits, but there were only 53 addiction treatment links.

Like Breed’s push for more policing in the Tenderloin, Dorsey’s plan could face resistance from activists and police critics.

Dorsey also hopes the legislation could send a political message that will make residents feel more comfortable with their neighborhoods welcoming new facilities that serve drug addicts or those recovering.

“That’s especially true as we make progress on supervised consumption sites,” Dorsey said, referring to the city’s plan to open sites where users can take illegal drugs under the care of medical professionals. health. “Unless we can assure neighborhood residents that we’re going to designate this as an enforcement priority, we’re going to get a lot of pushback.”

It’s unclear how big the zones would be, how many of them would be created, or how the zone boundaries would be communicated publicly.

Among the early supporters of Dorsey’s initiative is Cristel Tullock, San Francisco’s head of adult probation, who said in a statement that the zones would help “ensure that people who are striving to live a life without drugs will have a safe space to recover and a ‘non-triggering environment to rebuild their lives.

In his letter to Chiu, Dorsey said the legislation he is asking for is the first of several possible policies he has discussed with his constituents as part of a broader “right to recovery” plan. Dorsey, who said he abused alcohol, crystal meth and other drugs in the past, added that he envisions this plan “will encourage and better support those struggling with substance use disorders and of alcohol and seeking recovery”.

It is a story of rupture. Check back for updates.

JD Morris is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected]hronicle.comTwitter: @thejdmorris

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