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On the Record: Ross’s First 80 Days As Sheriff

by Larry Bush on 07/03/2012

in Paper Trails

[Sheriff Mirkarimi’s testimony spanned two days and, while the focus was on issues surrounding Official Misconduct Charges, Mirkarimi’s attorney asked him to explain what he had done during the months he served as Sheriff before Mayor Lee suspended him. The purpose was to demonstrate that even while there was a cloud as Mirkarimi faced criminal charges, he was performing his duties as Sheriff.

CitiReport posts his response explaining what actions he had taken and begun in his role as Sheriff. It provides insight into the leadership that his supporters hoped would guide the department over the coming years. Minor corrections have been made from the captioned text from SFGovTV.]

Question: at the time that you served the city and county of San Francisco as sheriff this year, what did you accomplish?

Mirkarimi: A great deal.

It is, I think, a long answer, but I will do my best to synthesize.

I was inheriting a department that had been well-led by my predecessor, sheriff Mike Hennessey, who had been the longest-serving elected in the history and county of San Francisco, 32 years.

There had not been an open election for a share [sheriff] of [San Francisco], so there was a great period of transition.

Part of that transition was my making staff changes and promotions of both deputy sheriffs and civilian staff.

Making constant rounds to all of our properties, both within San Francisco and in San Mateo county.

Being able to change policies so that I would have a more inclusive administration of lower ranks than had been previously included in budgetary decisions and policy-making decisions.

Preparing the sheriff’ s department for what was now becoming the first full year of state prisoners realignment, as propelled by Assembly Bill 109, and had begun a number of projects that would really elevate our ability of having in-custody and post-custody rehabilitation programs, building on the success of the Mike Hennessey administration in ways that had never been experienced before in San Francisco.

For example, I had two very incisive and in-depth meetings with Mimi Silver of delayed see [Delancy] street. We had prepared for the beginnings of starting the first-ever reentry potter [pod] in the San Francisco county jail, where there would be a lateral or reentry program so that we would speak effectively against the highest incidence of residences — recidivism that usually occurs in the six months after being released from jail, so our relationship would be piloted in showing what a pod will look like for people would be supervised by Delancy Street Administration.

I was very much looking forward to that pilot project taking off.

The second would be with SAGE, an organization which I did authorize where there would be monies allocated to SAGE and starting a caseworker program on a part-time, so that women who are then exiting the county jail system would then be welcomed by a SAGE case worker so that they would not necessarily go back into the sex worker prostitute industry, and therefore they were being exploited or harmed in any particular way. That the sheriff’s department within involve itself in assisting them so that it would not return to that lifestyle.

The third was I was in longstanding conversations with adult probation chief and the city and state about involving a dedicated reentry pod.

We were negotiating the reentry pod and what population of offender it would be four and a negotiating whether it would be women only or men.

And that is where I had left the discussion.

We were preparing the beginnings of the budget, which the previous-year budget before I took office was approximately $171 million, but this is the first year where the city is beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel of previous five-year budget deficits, where I was going to advocate vociferously for better realignment programs that would be more effective in reentry.

I also sent several letters, both to the police chief and to the mayor and to the city comptroller, about the deputy sheriffs elevating their role in the larger construct of public safety. I believe that we could have saved the city and county money by seeing the division transfer of what is known as the station transfer unit that is now under the governance of the police department to the sheriff’ s department, because the deputy sheriffs are paid approximately 23% less than the SFPD officers, and it is a routine action — SFPD officers, and it is a routine action, and they know they can be alleviated from that by freeing up a police officers so that the sheriff’ s department would pick that up as well.

I also –

Commission President Hur: Sorry to interrupt the witness, but I think we have quite a narrative here, and I would rather proceed with question and answer.

I agree that it is better by question and answer, so the objection is late though, so I will overrule it. But for our benefit, it would be helpful if we can proceed a little more by question and answer on this.

Mirkarimi: as I prefaced, I will do my best to synthesize, but it is a long — I believe I was saying about presenting the idea to the mayor, police department, and to the controller in ways of saving money, but also talking about the role of the deputy sheriffs and their credentials of being peace officers and the city’ s limits of having a deficit of sfpd officers.

There was an opportunity to augment where staff was short period that can be from the routine duties of monitoring inmates at San Francisco

General, for example, or the courts, where the police would be alleviated from having to do that.

Because overtime is something the city is quite challenged by and the math would be well-saved by the sheriff’ s department.

And I went as far as to talk about what is unpopular, ways that we can help with community policing, where I think it is poorly practiced in San Francisco, something that, as a supervisor, I spoke about quite vociferously that I think that our department could have held assisted with, and so on.

There’ s quite a bit more that occurred in the first two and a half months.


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