San Francisco

SF Leaders Looking to Combat Drug Overdose Crisis in City

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San Francisco city leaders say they are planning to saturate some neighborhoods after 545 people are dead from drug overdoses in the city and counting. Jean Elle reports.

San Francisco city leaders say they are planning ways to combat the drug overdose crisis after 545 people have died from it in the city.

Mayor London Breed helped light the tree at Civic Center Plaza Wednesday as she's focusing on retail theft, shopper safety and COVID concerns. We also asked her about the overdose crisis.

Just blocks away from the Civic Center is the Tenderloin neighborhood, where drug dealing and drug use is out in the open.

Police said two of three recent shootings there were related to drug deals.

The medical examiner said that so far this year, 545 people have died in San Francisco from drug overdoses. The majority happened in the Tenderloin neighborhood.

Breed said it's a crisis she's working on.

“We send police out we send teams to clean,” she said. “Yes, it’s been frustrating. Our police officers are making arrests. It’s overwhelming. We need more help than just our local law enforcement.”

At Wednesday night’s police commission meeting, people were asking questions about why the department responds in force to retail theft at Union Square but not the situation in the Tenderloin.

“And then we hear about these murders in the Tenderloin and the families that live there. It sends the message to the community that what matters is the big businesses and the corporate interest," said San Francisco police commissioner John Hamasaki.

Police said they expect to see more officers on the street arresting more dealers and offering services to addicts.

“We are also increasing our presence in the Tenderloin over the next several weeks," said San Francisco police chief Bill Scott.