Undersheriff Freeman said Sheriff Miyamoto has NO PLAN!

Matt FreemanOn May 14, 2024, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors convened a meeting on the impacts of lockdowns in the San Francisco County Jail.

Of particular concern is the health and well-being of deputy sheriffs and the impacts on the inmate population as a result of jail lockdowns.  The presenters at the hearing included the Sheriff’s Office, Deputy Sheriffs’ Association, Sheriff’s Inspector General, and Public Defender’s Office.

While each presenter and subsequent questions by the board members warrant merit for further discussion, it is the Sheriff’s presentation that requires further examination.  It is very important to keep in mind that this hearing was called due to the voluminous and violent attacks on deputies and the jail lockdowns that were caused by the aforementioned.

One would expect the Sheriff to present a plan that expedites the hiring of deputies in large numbers, details a training strategy to minimize attacks on deputies, states how he will modernize the deputy recruitment plan, and address the significant deficiencies in the county jail infrastructure.

We did not hear that.

Instead, the Sheriff spoke of hiring more discharge planners, securing funding for more behavioral health personnel, and purchasing more body-worn cameras.  Each of these initiatives has merit in consideration of county jail operations.

But, they completely miss the point and fall well short of what is needed to address the crisis in the San Francisco County Jail.  Deputies are under constant assault and risk of great bodily injury and possibly death. Inmates do not feel safe and lack adequate living quarters to include access to outdoor recreation.

The Sheriff’s presentation offered no solutions to these most pressing issues.  So the public, the deputies, the inmates, and loved ones of both are left wondering, what is the Sheriff’s Office plan?  The Sheriff’s Office has about 175 vacant deputy sheriff positions. What is the plan to fill the vacancies?
No plan.

The SFSO has an outdated, understaffed, and underfunded recruitment operation.  What is the plan to address this?
No plan.

The county jail facilities are decrepit and do not provide adequate living spaces, nor sufficient outdoor recreation.  What is the plan to address this?
No plan.

Too many deputy sheriffs are assigned to non-jail assignments. Not enough deputies are assigned to background investigations and personnel to support hiring efforts. What is the plan to rectify improper resource allocation?
No plan.

Overtime expenditures are consistently high including involuntary deputy overtime that causes exhausted deputies. Command-level staff are allowed to accrue overtime exasperating skyrocketing costs. What is the plan to decrease overtime spending?
No plan.

During the hearing, the Sheriff was asked if he had the funds in his budget to fill the deputy vacancies.
The answer was yes.

The question was followed by, so if you could hire the bodies, you have the funds to pay them?
The answer was yes.

It begs the question, why are these vacancies not being filled? What motivation could exist to subject deputies and inmates to such unsafe staffing levels?

Key to addressing all of these issues is leadership and the courage and strength to advocate.  The Sheriff is an elected Constitutional Officer and a Chief Executive Law Enforcement Officer.  The authority of the office must be used to educate, advance, and solicit the needs of the
agency.

The Sheriff must speak forcefully and directly at every opportunity to the electorate, the Board of Supervisors, and the Mayor about these mission-critical needs:

● Fill the deputy vacancies
● Fund a robust SFSO recruitment program
● Fund a fully staffed SFSO background investigation unit
● Fund the training needs of the Sheriff’s Office
● Approve significant capital improvements to the infrastructure of the county jail

Each of these is required to ensure a safe, humane, and secure county jail.

That must always be the priority of the Sheriff.

Matthew Freeman
The Undersheriff (Ret)
San Francisco Sheriff’s Office

Silence in the Face of Crisis: Non-Response from Mayor and Sheriff to Union’s Plea

In recent months, the San Francisco Deputy Sheriffs’ Association has been vocal about the critical issues plaguing our department. From severe staffing shortages to increasing incidents of prisoner violence, we have been sounding the alarm on the urgent need for action. A key step in this advocacy was a letter sent to Mayor London Breed, Sheriff Paul Miyamoto, and Board President Aaron Peskin, detailing these concerns and calling for immediate intervention.

However, the response – or lack thereof – has been deeply disheartening.

London Breed and Paul Miyamoto

A Deafening Silence from the Mayor

Mayor London Breed has yet to acknowledge or respond to our letter. This silence is particularly troubling given the gravity of the issues at hand. The safety of our deputies, the well-being of prisoners, and the overall security of our community are at stake. The mayor’s non-response not only undermines the efforts of our deputies but also sends a concerning message about the administration’s priorities regarding public safety.

The Sheriff’s Unanswered Call

Sheriff Paul Miyamoto, similarly, has not responded to the letter. This lack of communication is alarming, especially considering that he is directly responsible for the conditions within our jails. The issues raised in our letter are not new; they have been escalating for years. Despite this, the sheriff has chosen not to engage with the union on these critical matters.


A Thank You to the Board of Supervisors

In contrast, the Board of Supervisors has taken a step towards addressing these issues by calling Sheriff Miyamoto into a hearing. During this session, the sheriff was questioned about the ongoing staffing crisis and the resultant safety concerns. We extend our gratitude to the Board of Supervisors for recognizing the severity of the situation and taking action. This hearing is a positive step towards accountability and solutions.


The Implications of Inaction

The non-response from both the mayor and the sheriff is more than just a communication breakdown; it is a stark indicator of the broader neglect of our department’s needs. Our deputies continue to work under hazardous conditions, stretched thin by understaffing and facing increasing risks of violence. The refusal to engage with the union on these issues not only hampers our ability to find solutions but also puts lives at risk.

A Call for Immediate Action

We urge Mayor Breed and Sheriff Miyamoto to break their silence and address the pressing issues outlined in our letter. The safety of our deputies, prisoners, and the public depends on it. The time for inaction has passed; we need concrete steps and open dialogue to resolve the crises within our jails.

The San Francisco Deputy Sheriffs’ Association remains committed to advocating for the well-being of our members and the safety of our community. We call on our city’s leaders to join us in this mission and take immediate action to address the critical issues at hand.

Op-Ed by SF Undersheriff Freeman (Ret) on Current Conditions of the Sheriff’s Office

SF Undersheriff FreemanFor thirty years (1991-2021) spanning four different Sheriff’s, I served with pride as a sworn peace officer in the City and County of San Francisco Sheriff’s Department, the last four of which I had the honor to serve as Undersheriff.

Having held every rank in the department and worked in many different assignments, I came to realize that the Sheriff’s Department is not an inanimate object, rather it is organic. The deputy sheriff is the heart of a living organization.

Since my retirement in February 2021, I have followed the trajectory of the department, its leadership, and the stewardship of the deputy sheriffs.  It is painfully clear that the deputy sheriffs who patrol the toughest beat in San Francisco (the county jail) are under constant attack.

The recent and horrific assaults on deputies by inmates in the county jail some of which have resulted in broken bones, torn skin, and head injuries are a shock to all San Franciscans.

Based on my thirty years of experience, I can tell you that these attacks are 100% avoidable. As a deputy sheriff, I was well-trained, well-equipped, and educated in the proper application of tactical communications.

I knew well the importance of garnering voluntary compliance when supervising an inmate housing area. Core to this was treating inmates with dignity and respect. My job was not to punish, but rather to maintain safety while inmates progressed through the criminal justice system.

Assaults on deputies throughout my career were very rare. In fact, in most cases the only time a deputy sheriff was struck by an inmate was when a deputy was separating inmates that were fighting each other.  There have been more assaults on deputies in the last 60 days than in my entire thirty-year career.  The rash of recent attacks on deputy sheriffs is not normal.

It is the result of incompetent if not indifferent leadership in the Sheriff’s Department. The deputies and their line supervisors are not being trained properly, nor are they being supported by the command staff.

This dynamic leads to deputies that feel as if they are not supported. They become unsure of their training, capabilities, and authority while supervising inmates.  It invites violence as the inmates can sense that the deputies are nervous, leading the inmates to feel as if they are not safe. The inmates lash out as if to fill the void of no control.

It is a recipe for disaster in the county jail.
This dangerous problem is further exacerbated by the lack of recreation space to include outdoor recreation for the inmates. Prior to retiring, I worked closely with the city attorney and a team of Sheriffs personnel to address this very important issue. Unfortunately, Sheriff Miyamoto lacked the courage to stand up to those who objected to the needed capital improvements to the county jail. Outdoor recreation, access to sunshine and clean air significantly reduces violent behavior. Of course, the Sheriff’s Department would require additional deputies to supervise outdoor recreation. The lack of hiring highlights another failure of the current Sheriff administration.

Safe and secure county jail operations rely heavily on the leadership, mentorship, and support of the Custody Operations Division Chief Deputy and the individual Jail Captains. They are failing miserably.
Ultimately the responsibility to keep and maintain a safe and secure county jail for staff and inmates alike falls to Sheriff Miyamoto.  He must be distracted.

The members of the San Francisco Deputy Sheriffs’ Association, the bargaining unit that represents deputy sheriffs deserve if not demand that Sheriff Miyamoto re-focus his attention on the most important asset of the department – Deputy Sheriff.
The department has over 150 deputy vacancies. Deputies are forced to work too much overtime, they are required to supervise too many inmates absent adequate coverage. The training and support by leadership are subpar.

The path to successful public safety in San Francisco traverses both the front and back doors of the county jail. Public safety suffers for all when the deputies are fatigued and not provided with proper support. 

The deputies deserve better, the inmates deserve better and all San Franciscans must demand better of their Sheriff.

Matthew Freeman
Undersheriff (Ret.)
San Francisco Sheriff’s Department

San Francisco Sheriff’s Office: Operating on a Debt-Based Budget with Overtime Slavery

In recent years, the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office (SFSO) has been embroiled in a disturbing practice of operating on a debt-based budget, resorting to what can only be described as overtime slavery to balance its fiscal books. This unethical approach, characterized by the forced imposition of excessive overtime on deputy sheriffs, is not only financially irresponsible but also morally reprehensible, taking a severe toll on the health and well-being of those sworn to protect and serve.

One of the key tactics used in this budgetary strategy is budgetary attrition savings, a process whereby the sheriff deliberately hires fewer deputies than what is needed to adequately staff the department. This intentional understaffing creates a limited savings of benefits and training costs, as the shortfall is then filled by forcing existing deputies to work excessive overtime hours.

SFSO Debt Based BudgetDespite clear data indicating the harmful impacts of this practice, the SFSO leadership has persisted in its reliance on forced overtime to cover budgeted attrition and maintain fiscal balance. This shortsighted strategy prioritizes financial expediency over the physical and mental health of deputy sheriffs, creating a toxic work environment and jeopardizing public safety.

Data collected over recent years paints a grim picture. Forced overtime has become a norm, with deputy sheriffs compelled to work extended hours without adequate rest or respite. This relentless schedule not only leads to exhaustion and burnout but also compromises the ability of deputies to perform their duties effectively and safely, endangering both themselves and the community they serve.

The use of forced overtime as a budgetary tool is symptomatic of a larger failure within the SFSO to manage its resources responsibly. Instead of advocating for a budget that reflects realistic staffing levels and limits on overtime, the sheriff has opted for a reckless path that exploits the dedication of deputy sheriffs to balance the books.

The consequences of this debt-based budgeting approach are dire. Deputy sheriffs are experiencing alarming rates of burnout and fatigue, leading to increased absenteeism and turnover. This vicious cycle of overwork and exhaustion not only harms the physical and mental health of deputy sheriffs but also undermines the effectiveness and integrity of the SFSO as a whole.

It is imperative that immediate action be taken to address this crisis. The SFSO must abandon its reliance on overtime slavery and commit to a budgetary approach that prioritizes the well-being of its deputies. Anything less would be a betrayal of the trust placed in the SFSO by the residents of San Francisco and a disservice to those who dedicate their lives to serving and protecting the community.

Demanding Action: San Francisco Deputy Sheriffs Association Calls for Urgent Staffing Solutions

In a bold move to address the critical staffing shortages plaguing the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office (SFSO), the San Francisco Deputy Sheriffs’ Association (SFDSA) has issued an open letter to Sheriff, Mayor, and Board Supervisor President. The letter, signed by SFDSA President Ken Lomba, demands immediate action to recruit and hire Deputy Sheriffs to alleviate the current crisis.

The urgency of the situation cannot be overstated. A recent survey conducted by Dr. Lois James, PhD, revealed shocking statistics regarding the sleep, health, and wellness of SFSO deputies. With an average of only 5.25 hours of sleep per 24-hour period, deputies are facing serious risks to their health and safety. The survey also found high rates of physical and mental health problems among deputies, including high blood pressure, sleep apnea, depressive symptoms, and anxiety.

Despite these alarming findings, SFSO deputies are working an average of 28 hours of overtime per week, nearly tripling the recommended limit set by Occupational Safety and Health guidelines. This excessive overtime not only contributes to fatigue and health issues but also increases the risk of incidents and accidents on the job.

The cost analysis conducted by Dr. James further highlights the urgency of the situation. It is more cost-effective to increase the workforce by approximately 50% than to rely on overtime to fill staffing gaps.

In light of these findings, the SFDSA is demanding immediate action from Sheriff, Mayor, and Board Supervisor President. The association calls for the allocation of necessary funding to recruit and hire additional Deputy Sheriffs to ensure the safety and well-being of deputies and the public.

The SFDSA’s open letter serves as a clarion call for action. It demands results and concrete steps to address the staffing crisis in the SFSO. If no action is taken, the SFDSA is prepared to escalate its efforts and inform the public about the gravity of the situation.

The time for action is now. The safety and well-being of our deputies and our community depend on it.

Ken Lomba
President
San Francisco Deputy Sheriffs’ Association

Overtime Slavery: San Francisco Sheriff’s Office Struggles Amidst Rising Violence and Staff Shortages

Within the walls of the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office, a troubling reality is unfolding. Deputies, the frontline warriors of law enforcement, are being pushed to their limits by an unyielding demand for overtime work. This alarming situation, highlighted by a recent survey led by expert Lois James, PhD, paints a grim picture of overworked deputies, jeopardizing both their well-being and the safety of the community they serve.

The survey reveals a shocking truth: deputies are surviving on an average of just 5.25 hours of sleep per night, well below the recommended 7-9 hours. This chronic sleep deprivation not only threatens their health but also undermines their ability to make sound decisions and react quickly in critical situations, putting themselves and others at risk.

Staffing Crisis

Staffing Comments

The implications of this overtime slavery are profound. More than half of the deputies report high blood pressure, a third suffer from sleep apnea, and nearly three-quarters exhibit symptoms of depression. These stark figures underscore a workforce on the brink, their physical and mental health hanging in the balance.

The numbers tell a sobering story. Deputies are logging an average of 28 hours of overtime per week, a staggering figure that triples the recommended limit set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This relentless overtime not only compromises their health but also diminishes their performance, with deputies 50% more likely to be involved in incidents while working overtime.

Adding to the pressure is the rising violence within the prison system. Incidents of prisoner fights have increased significantly, placing additional strain on an already overburdened staff. Attacks on deputies are also on the rise, highlighting the urgent need for a fully staffed and supported workforce.

Sheriff Miyamoto’s heavy reliance on mandatory overtime has created a toxic environment within the Sheriff’s Office, akin to modern-day slavery. Deputies are being pushed to their limits, with little regard for their well-being or rights. It’s a crisis that demands immediate attention, as lives are on the line.

Despite these challenges, Miyamoto has failed to prioritize recruiting and hiring, exacerbating the staffing shortages and placing further strain on an already overwhelmed workforce. As the sun sets over the Golden Gate, the deputies of the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office continue to toil, trapped in a cycle of exhaustion and despair. How much longer can they endure? Will Sheriff Miyamoto take decisive action to end their suffering? The time for change is now.

To ensure the safety of both deputies and the community, the Sheriff’s Office must bolster its ranks by approximately 308 deputies. Failure to address this crisis will perpetuate a cycle of exploitation and endangerment, with grave consequences for all involved.

Deputy Sheriffs Working the Toughest Beat in San Francisco

Amidst the bustling streets and vibrant neighborhoods of San Francisco, there exists a group of dedicated individuals who work tirelessly to ensure the safety and security of our communities. These unsung heroes are the deputy sheriffs who guard the county jails, facing unique challenges and pressures that come with the territory.

Recent data paints a stark picture of the realities these deputy sheriffs confront daily. Incidents of prisoner fights have been on the rise, placing a significant strain on the already stretched-thin staffing levels. In 2022, there were 172 prisoner fights, averaging 0.276 fights per deputy sheriff. By 2023, these numbers had increased, with 240 fights averaging 0.393 fights per deputy sheriff. These statistics underscore the challenging and often volatile environment in which these deputies operate.

In addition to the increase in prisoner fights, attacks on deputies have also been on the rise. In 2022, there were 121 attacks on deputies, averaging 0.194 attacks per deputy sheriff. By 2023, this number had surged to 216 attacks, averaging 0.354 attacks per deputy sheriff. These attacks not only pose a direct threat to the safety of the deputies but also impact their morale and well-being.

Deputies Attacked 2024

Despite these challenges, deputy sheriffs in San Francisco’s county jails continue to demonstrate unwavering dedication and professionalism in the face of adversity. They work long hours, often in high-stress situations, to ensure the safety and security of both inmates and staff. Their commitment to upholding the law and maintaining order in a challenging environment is commendable and deserving of recognition.

However, the city’s failure to address the issue of understaffing in the jails puts additional strain on these already overburdened deputies. With inadequate staffing levels, deputies are forced to work longer hours and take on increased responsibilities, leading to fatigue and burnout. The city’s proposal to eliminate staffing minimums at the Sheriff’s Office further exacerbates this issue, putting the safety of both deputies and inmates at risk.

It is crucial that we recognize the invaluable contributions of these deputy sheriffs and advocate for the resources and support they need to carry out their duties safely and effectively. By investing in additional staffing and implementing measures to improve working conditions, we can ensure that our deputy sheriffs have the support they need to continue serving our communities with professionalism and dedication.

San Francisco Sheriff’s Office Struggles Amid Staffing Crisis Amid Civil Unrest, Protests, and Rising Violence

The San Francisco Sheriff’s Office is in the midst of a staffing crisis, severely impacting its ability to maintain safety and respond effectively to emergencies. The recent blockage of the Golden Gate Bridge by pro-Palestinian protesters underscored the department’s challenges, with off-duty deputies being urgently called in to address the situation due to the staffing shortfall.

One of the most pressing issues exacerbated by the staffing shortage is the escalating violence within the jails, including an alarming rise in prisoner fights and attacks on deputies. These incidents not only jeopardize the lives of deputies but also compromise the safety and security of inmates and staff. The lack of adequate staffing has made it increasingly difficult for the Sheriff’s Office to manage these incidents and ensure the safety of all involved.

Who is going to respond? We are running out of Deputy Sheriffs!

In addition to internal challenges, the Sheriff’s Office is also facing external pressures, such as civil unrest and protests, which have become more frequent and intense. These events require a significant law enforcement presence to maintain order and protect public safety. However, the staffing shortage has forced the department to stretch its resources thin, raising concerns about its ability to respond effectively to such events.

SF Protest No Staffing

 

Addressing the current staffing crisis at the Sheriff’s Office requires immediate and decisive action. Hiring must be made a top priority, with a focus on fast-tracking the recruitment process to quickly fill vacant positions. The Sheriff’s Office should explore all available options to expedite hiring, including streamlining application processes and offering incentives to attract qualified candidates.

In conclusion, the staffing crisis facing the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office is a critical issue that demands urgent attention. Failure to address this crisis not only endangers the safety of deputies and inmates but also undermines the department’s ability to maintain public safety during times of civil unrest and protests. It is imperative that immediate steps are taken to increase staffing levels and ensure that the Sheriff’s Office is adequately equipped to handle the challenges it faces.

Incarceration-Based Rehabilitation: Addressing San Francisco’s Illegal Drug Use Problem

In recent years, San Francisco has faced a growing challenge with illegal drug use, particularly with highly addictive and deadly substances like “tranq” Xylazine and Fentanyl. These drugs have contributed to an alarming number of drug overdose deaths, highlighting the urgent need for effective interventions to address this public health crisis. As the city seeks solutions, one approach gaining attention is the concept of Incarceration-Based Rehabilitation. This method involves providing rehabilitation programs within the criminal justice system, utilizing the resources of the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office (SFSO) to offer a controlled environment for individuals with substance use disorders to receive treatment and support.

 

Tranq Zombie Drug

 

The key to this approach lies in recognizing the intertwined nature of substance abuse and criminal behavior. Many individuals who engage in illegal drug use find themselves caught in a cycle of addiction and criminal activity, often leading to incarceration. Traditional punitive measures, such as imprisonment without addressing the underlying issues, have proven ineffective in breaking this cycle. Incarceration-Based Rehabilitation seeks to address both the criminal behavior and the root cause of substance abuse through a comprehensive program.

The SFSO plays a central role in this approach by leveraging its resources and expertise to create an environment conducive to rehabilitation. Deputy Sheriffs, who are already responsible for maintaining order and security within jail facilities, can be trained to provide support and guidance to individuals with substance use disorders. By working closely with trained professionals, participants in the program can access a range of services tailored to their needs, including counseling, medical treatment, and vocational training.

One of the key advantages of Incarceration-Based Rehabilitation is its ability to provide a structured and supervised environment for individuals to address their substance abuse issues. Unlike traditional treatment programs that rely on voluntary participation, this approach offers a more controlled setting where participants are encouraged to engage in treatment and are held accountable for their progress. By integrating rehabilitation into the criminal justice system, the program can also ensure that individuals receive the support they need while serving their sentences, increasing the likelihood of successful reintegration into society upon release.

Moreover, Incarceration-Based Rehabilitation can be a cost-effective solution for San Francisco. By addressing substance abuse issues within the criminal justice system, the program has the potential to reduce recidivism rates, leading to long-term savings associated with lower incarceration and criminal justice costs. Additionally, by breaking the cycle of addiction and criminal behavior, the program can contribute to a safer and healthier community, benefiting the city as a whole.

Importantly, this system is designed not only to address the substance abuse issues but also to attend to the overall well-being of the individuals in the program. Participants will have access to healthcare, including medical and mental health services, to address any underlying health conditions or mental health needs. They will also receive clean clothing, access to bathing facilities, and a clean environment, promoting hygiene and overall health. Deputy Sheriffs will ensure their safety, creating a secure environment conducive to recovery.

Given the grave risks associated with drugs like “tranq” Xylazine and Fentanyl, providing a comprehensive program like Incarceration-Based Rehabilitation is crucial for keeping individuals alive and getting them on the path to recovery. By offering a holistic approach that addresses both the substance abuse issues and the broader needs of the individuals, this system has the potential to make a significant impact on the lives of those struggling with addiction in San Francisco. Will San Francisco value human life and do this to stop the cycle of addiction and overdose deaths? 

Applying the Rule of Law to Fix San Francisco’s Tenderloin District

San Francisco’s Tenderloin District has faced longstanding challenges related to drug use, crime, and homelessness. Despite efforts to address these issues, the district continues to struggle with illegal drug markets, public health hazards, and social disorder. San Francisco’s approach, which has focused on social justice ideas and initiatives with minimal consequences for illegal activities, has failed to yield significant improvements.

sf tenderloin

 

The city has allocated considerable resources to various programs and initiatives aimed at addressing the problems in the Tenderloin District. However, the lack of a robust enforcement strategy and a reliance on social justice principles have not effectively deterred illegal drug use or reduced the negative impacts on the community.

It is evident that the city’s current approach is not working, as evidenced by the persistent challenges faced by the Tenderloin District and other areas of San Francisco. The failure to address these issues has resulted in a waste of public funds and a deterioration of the quality of life for residents and businesses in the affected areas.

To remedy this situation, San Francisco must prioritize the rule of law in its efforts to fix the Tenderloin District. This entails:

  1. Focused Law Enforcement: Implementing a targeted and robust law enforcement strategy to disrupt illegal drug markets and criminal activities in the district.
  2. Incarceration-Based Rehabilitation: Providing rehabilitation programs within the criminal justice system to offer a controlled environment for individuals with substance use disorders to receive treatment and support.
  3. Zero Tolerance for Illegal Drug Activities: Adopting a zero-tolerance policy for illegal drug use and trafficking to send a clear message that such activities will not be tolerated.
  4. Community Engagement: Engaging with local stakeholders to build trust and collaboration in addressing the root causes of the issues in the Tenderloin District.
  5. Transparent and Accountable Spending: Ensuring that public funds are allocated transparently and used accountably to maximize their effectiveness in addressing the challenges faced by the district.

By prioritizing the rule of law and taking decisive action to address the issues in the Tenderloin District, San Francisco can work towards creating a safer, cleaner, and more livable environment for all its residents.  Stop Dancing Around the Issue San Francisco, this is a working plan!