Breed last week announced an aggressive crackdown on crime in the city, specifically citing the Tenderloin neighborhood as an area plagued by open-air drug dealing, crime and unsanitary conditions on the streets. She unveiled a series of proposals, including securing emergency funds for law enforcement and more police funding for overtime and additional officers.
She also declared a state of emergency in Tenderloin, which will expedite emergency programs by waiving zoning and planning codes.
But Boudin joined other elected officials and activists during a news conference Monday to criticize plan as addressing the symptom, not the problem.
“We all share the concern and the pain about the situation in the Tenderloin,” Boudin said. “Personally, I am outraged every time I walk or drive through Tenderloin. The raw human suffering, the flagrant violations of law, the neglect, and the circumstances that we see that are going in direct violation of our most basic core human principles – about caring for others in need.”
“Arresting people who are addicted to drugs, jailing people who have mental health struggles, putting folks who are vending hot dogs or other food on the streets in cages will not solve these problems, and they are certainly not the only tools available,” he continued. “Right now in San Francisco it is easier to get high than it is to get help. That must stop. That must change right now. We cannot simply arrest and prosecute our way out of problems that are afflicting the Tenderloin and so many parts of our city. We can’t continue to wait for the police to respond and make an arrest before we intervene. We must as a city intervene before crimes are committed, before damage is done.”
Boudin cited affordable housing, universal mental health care, and the opening of new supervised drug-use facilities as solutions that will “save lives.”
In an op-ed Tuesday for Sfgate.com, Boudin defended himself as “vigorously pursuing” the accountability of criminals and slammed critics who “have wrongly accused progressive prosecutors like me” of being soft on crime.
“We are at a tipping point in San Francisco; we are in danger of making [a] decision driven by fear,” he wrote. “We should not return to the days of locking up every person who commits any offense, no matter how small — a practice which not only failed to stop crime but also disproportionately impacted over-policed communities of color. Returning to those criminal justice policies offers no solution. We can have both safety and justice.”
“I am committed to a comprehensive response that investigates identifies and holds accountable those responsible, supports victims and prevents future crime,” he added. “It is only through this multi-faceted approach that we will be able to build better, safer and just communities.”
The news conference comes as Boudin, whose 2019 election was not supported by Breed, faces a recall election in June put on the ballot by detractors who say he is soft on criminals.
Breed’s spokesman, Jeff Cretan, said Monday the administration has made historic investments in many of the solutions proposed by Boudin, including housing and treatment. As part of her emergency response plan, Breed is working to open a temporary site in the Tenderloin to connect people to services, he said.
“The reality is that our outreach teams are out there every day, and while many people accept services to get themselves indoors and to get the help they need, others don’t,” Cretan said, adding that the mayor will continue to invest in these programs, “but people will not be allowed to reject these services and continue to break the law.”
Fox News’ Louis Casiano and the Associated Press contributed to this report.