Bay Area/ San Francisco/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on February 29, 2024
Nearly Half of Individuals Cited for Public Drug Use in San Francisco Are Non-ResidentsSource: Google Street View

San Francisco's latest data drop has revealed a grim reality in its battle against drug abuse—nearly half of the individuals cited by police for public drug use in the past year don't even live in the city. According to a statement released by the city, 47% of those cited hailed from other counties, implicating that the city's crisis extends beyond its borders.

Crunching the numbers further to fully comprehend the extent of the problem, of the 718 people cited between March 30, 2023, and February 2, a full 20% were on the County Adult Assistance Program (CAAP) cash payments, with a third admitting to not residing in San Francisco. These individuals stand accused of committing welfare fraud, taking advantage of the system and taxpayer money meant to support the city's most impoverished residents.

This statistic is alarming for a city already struggling to manage its reputation as a haven for drug activities—a reputation bolstered by the egregious amount of fentanyl seizures and drug-related arrests in recent months. San Francisco's mayor, London Breed, was quoted saying, "These numbers serve as proof that we must continue doubling down our efforts to shut down our drug markets that are attracting people to come here." The city enforcement initiative has notched over 2,000 arrests and seized over 260 pounds of fentanyl in the Tenderloin area alone in the past year, with the efforts extending into the current year.

Authorities have moved quickly to cease the spigot of fraudulent access to the CAAP, which offers a monthly grant of $712—the highest in the state. Trent Rhorer, Executive Director of the San Francisco Human Services Agency, addressed the concern, stating, "These taxpayer dollars are intended to provide short-term support to meet basic needs for San Francisco’s poorest residents, not for people who live in other counties whose grants are far too low and certainly not for any recipient to purchase and use illegal drugs." To further enforce law and order, the city has continued to work together tightly with state and federal partners, including a specialized task force in conjunction with the National Guard and CHP, to tackle the opioid crisis head-on.

The city's efforts have extended to its treatment services, offering an array of support for those detained under public intoxication laws. The San Francisco Department of Public Health purportedly serves 25,000 people annually with mental health and addiction care. In the midst of these enforcement and treatment endeavors, officials such as Supervisor Matt Dorsey have advocated for policies that disincentivize drug use, suggesting that the city owes it to its taxpayers not to enable behaviors that are "deadlier than ever."