California Highway Patrol Policing Open Air Drug Use in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District

FILE - People sleep near discarded clothing and used needles on a street in the Tenderloin
AP Photo/Janie Har, File

California Gov. Gavin Newsom is pulling officers from the California highway patrol to San Francisco’s Tenderloin district as part of a multi-agency initiative to crack down on open air drug dealings and drug use.

Since May 30, highway patrol officers have made 100 drug related arrests, CNN reported.  In one instance, a highway patrol officer arrested a drug dealer allegedly selling 33 grams of fentanyl which had the potential to kill 16,500 people.

Local authorities have apprehended 300 suspected drug dealers since the protocol changes. 

Gov. Newsom’s office announced that California highway patrol officers have seized enough fentanyl to kill 2.1 million — three times the population of San Francisco — since deploying officers to the Tenderloin district since May 1.

Additionally, in the first six weeks of the operation, the CHP seized over 957 grams of methamphetamine, 319 grams of cocaine, and 31 grams of heroin and made 92 felony and misdemeanor arrests – including on charges related to possession of fentanyl, illegal firearm possession, driving under the influence, and domestic violence.

However, many of those arrested on drug dealing and drug use charges are released back onto the streets as soon as their case is filed, according to district attorney Brooke Jenkins, who was elected in 2022. Her office has filed 1,000 drug dealing cases, and she said they have put in motion to detain 200 of the most serious offenders awaiting trial. However, the judges only remanded 17 of those charged, leaving the rest to return to the streets.   

“I’m not going to take the blame when my prosecutors are going in and arguing that these people have to remain in custody,” Jenkins told CNN. “The judges are not doing their part and that has to be revealed.”

RELATED: San Francisco Man Saves Stranger from Apparent Fentanyl Overdose 

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While overall crime is down by 1 percent when compared to the same period ending in 2022, drug offenses have climbed by 36 percent, the San Francisco Standard reported.

While authorities are releasing most of those charged with drug dealing and drug use; the prison population reached 1,000 for the first time in years last month. Now officials are discussing whether to reopen a jail closed three years ago for being “seismically unsafe, outdated and in disrepair.”

Some have called the arrests made for open drug use simply putting a Band-Aid on the epidemic. 

“We can’t fill the jails with people to fuel the political agendas of a few politicians,” Diana Block, a member of the No New SF Jails Coalition told the Standard. “We refuse to turn back the progress that we in San Francisco have fought for for years.” 


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