San Francisco

San Francisco to Allow Sheriff's Deputies to Work as Security Guards in Stores

Bloomberg A customer holds an American Eagle Outfitters Inc. shopping bag while waiting in line to make a transaction at a store in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, March 6, 2013.

San Francisco supervisors on Tuesday approved legislation that would allow off-duty deputies with the San Francisco Sheriff's Office to work as security guards in retail stores and other businesses.

Supervisors approved the legislation 7-3, with supervisors Hillary Ronen, Dean Preston, and Walton voting against it.

Supervisor Ahsha Safai, who authored the legislation, said it will help meet the demand for increased security at businesses in response to a recent wave of smash-and-grab robberies in the Bay Area.

Currently, only San Francisco Police Department officers are allowed to moonlight as security guards at private businesses.

“This legislation seeks to expand the availability of not just our police officers that are allowed under the existing rules of the city, but our sheriffs to be hired by private entities," Safai said. "Many of the private entities were having a hard time filling the demand. There weren't enough officers that were available for over time to be hired, even on the dime of a private entity."

“Hotel workers, clerks, they're frightened by the activity. Many of them have been personally harmed and we need to protect them as well," he said. "We have to have a response. The reputation of the city is on the line."

The deputies would only be allowed to work as security guards during overtime hours and the update would not impact their regular law enforcement duties, according to Safai.

Ronen questioned whether allowing deputies to contract as security guards would be efficient considering the Sheriff's Office last week said it was experiencing a staffing shortage of deputies at the city's courthouses.

But, according to San Francisco Sheriff Paul Miyamoto, the legislation "would have no impact on our current staffing levels because its voluntary for the deputies to sign up for the overtime on their own time. We are not obligated by this legislation to provide staffing services."

Miyamoto added, "I don't believe that this would be related to our ability to staff up the courts."

“I'm very worried about using the very limited staff that we have for these purposes when there are these really crucial needs in our city that aren't being fulfilled. It remains a really huge concern of mine," Ronen said.

Safai said, "Only a couple hundred (deputies) will be made available for this sheriff's program and even then, you're talking about somewhere between 10 and 25 individuals in the sheriff's department that will be made available for this as it ramps up."

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