San Francisco announces citywide response protocol to address hate incidents

Along with existing programs, this new coordinated effort will make sure victims have the resources they need to navigate the justice system 

SAN FRANCISCO (January 26, 2023) — Today, Mayor London N. Breed, City Attorney David Chiu, District Attorney Brooke Jenkins, Police Chief Bill Scott joined community-based organizations to announce a new, citywide strategy to strengthen the City’s response to hate crimes and prejudice-fueled incidents. The San Francisco District Attorney’s (SFDA) Office, San Francisco Police Department (SFPD), and several community-based organizations have created a unified protocol to respond to hate incidents and provide services to victims. Through this new protocol, a citywide summit on hate crimes, and budgetary investments, the City has put together a broad strategy to provide robust services to crime victims and continue to focus on preventing hate incidents.

SFPD Chief Bill Scott, District Attorney Brooke Jenkins, City Attorney David Chiu, and Mayor London Breed appear at a press conference to discuss citywide response protocol to address hate incidents.

As a result of racist and xenophobic rhetoric since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a rise in hate incidents targeting Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. San Francisco leaders and community organizations have worked to increase services to victims and identify any gaps that may exist in the City’s response to hate incidents. This was also the focus of a lawsuit against the City, Lê v. City and County of San Francisco, that the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office brought to a resolution.

“Over the last several years, our API communities have dealt with tremendous levels of loss, hate and violence directed at us,” said City Attorney David Chiu. “These incidents are inexcusable and have no place in San Francisco. I am grateful to our community partners for identifying ways to improve our City’s response to hate incidents, and appreciate the collaboration that has led to new policies implemented by Mayor Breed, District Attorney Jenkins, and Police Chief Scott. The City is working hard to demonstrate our commitment to supporting and lifting up victims and survivors of hate.”

“Keeping our community safe takes all of us working together. I applaud the ongoing work and advocacy by City Attorney David Chiu for our API community to ensure a strengthened protocol is in place,” said Mayor London Breed. “By bringing together various agencies and organizations to form coordinated and unified responses, the City aims to better support those who unfortunately have to go through an often complex and traumatic justice system. We must also continue to tackle these horrific incidents and their impacts through our various programs and outreach efforts and by making sure our public safety agencies, community-based organizations and health care providers have the necessary resources they need to support community members who rely on their work and services.”

“My office is committed to standing for and with AAPI victims of crime,” said District Attorney Brooke Jenkins. “I am proud to partner with the Mayor, City Attorney, the San Francisco Police and community partners to improve outreach and education efforts to residents and address hate motivated crime by ensuring there is accountability and appropriate consequences.”

“The SFPD values our collaborative work with other public safety agencies and stakeholders at the table,” said Police Chief Bill Scott. “At a critical time when we come together to serve our community, our longstanding community partnerships are more important than ever. We must continue to come up with creative solutions through different initiatives like prevention, education, and enforcement to ensure the safety and security of everyone in San Francisco. The SFPD is committed to safety with respect for all.”

New Efforts by the District Attorney and SFPD for Victims of Crime

The District Attorney’s Office, SFPD, and community victim service providers have created a unified protocol for responding to potential prejudice fueled incidents. Under this new protocol, victims will receive better support and quicker referrals, ensuring victims get timely information about the legal system and are met with culturally competent services.

The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office Victim Services Division (VSD) provides resources and education to all victims who have experienced a violent crime regardless of reporting status and case resolution. Services are available in Cantonese, Mandarin, Tagalog as well as many other languages. Additionally, the SFDA’s Victim Services Division has created a publicly-available resource guide that describes what a hate crime is, outlines instructions on how to report a hate crime, and includes available resources with community nonprofit partners.

In addition to the new protocols forged, the SFDA and the Police Department will hold a citywide summit on hate crimes in February, bringing together residents, community organizations, and law enforcement to foster greater conversation and identify solutions to these difficult issues.

In 2020, under Mayor Breed’s instruction, the SFPD created the Community Liaison Unit (CLU) which serves as the liaison between the Police Department and victims of prejudice-based incidents, hate crimes and serious incidents of violence against historically marginalized communities. Since its inception, the CLU has assisted and provided support during the investigative and criminal process and reaches out directly to victims to ensure they are connected with all resources and services provided by the City. As part of the SFPD’s commitment to providing culturally-and-linguistically-competent services and engagement work to the community, diversity in the workforce has been among the Department’s top priorities. Currently, the SFPD has over 100 Cantonese speaking officers, over 20 Mandarin speaking officers, and 20 Tagalog speaking officers who are active throughout the City.

Community Support Efforts in the City Budget

Mayor Breed has also worked with the Police Department and community-based organizations to ensure AAPI communities feel safe and supported. Partnerships with organizations like Community Youth Center and Self Help for the Elderly have been critical to the City’s public safety footprint as they have quickly jumped in to support the community during unprecedented times. Since launching the Senior Escort Program, Self Help for the Elderly has reported a positive impact by delivering over 19,655.25 service hours servicing more 1,437 seniors, ensuring that seniors are accompanied to go to medical appointments, attend to errands, and meet friends.

As the budget planning process of the next two fiscal years begins, Mayor Breed has begun to identify ways to further strengthen the City’s commitment to making sure crime victims receive just services while keeping the community safe through prevention services. Some of the highlights identified and in development include:

  • Funding for online banking lessons by Self Help for the Elderly to prevent seniors from being robbed while banking or while in transit back home with cash;
  • Funding travel vouchers for seniors to take private transit, providing them additional options to travel to and from their destinations;
  • Continuing funding for designated Cantonese-speaking mental health and trauma recovery services at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and Richmond Area Multi-Services (RAMS);
  • Victim Wraparound services by Community Youth Center (CYC), focusing on limited English proficient victims of hate incidents and crimes;
  • Street Violence Intervention Program and CYC multiracial neighborhood safety walks in commercial corridors with high-concentrated Asian-operated businesses;
  • Senior escort program by Self Help for the Elderly so that seniors are accompanied as they go to doctor appointments or meet friends;
  • Developing a nurse practitioner program in community-based organizations with the SFDA;
  • Developing education programs by Community Coalition for Safety & Justice to build bridges between Asian and Black communities and break down stereotypes

Although San Francisco recently saw a decrease in hate incident reports, the work to make sure the community feels safe continues, especially during the Lunar New Year season. City leaders encourage members of the public to continue to stay vigilant and report all crimes to SFPD.