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Fighting Fentanyl: CHP, Cal Guard Get to Work in San Francisco

Monday marked the first day that California Highway Patrol officers were scheduled to start patrolling San Francisco’s Tenderloin and South of Market districts as part of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s pledge to help with the city’s fentanyl crisis.

Supporters of the effort are cautiously optimistic, but the city supervisor that represents the Tenderloin said it’s more show than actual solution.

According to the office of the medical examiner, during the first four months of this year, 200 people died of accidental overdoses in the city – 159 of them from fentanyl. The vast majority of those deaths came from the Tenderloin and South of Market neighborhoods.

The hope is that the CHP’s increased patrols in those areas will have an impact on the city’s fentanyl crisis. But Supervisor Dean Preston dismissed the governor’s plan to send the CHP into the district, calling it a ploy to get national attention.

“I don’t know that anyone seriously thinks that seeing a CHP officer out here, and again, we’re talking about the deployment of – we’ve been told it’s six CHP officers,” Preston said.

Preston has been a vocal critic of massing more law enforcement to crack down on the problem. He said the fentanyl crisis is a public health issue, so he supports ideas like supervised consumption sites.

Mothers Against Drug Addiction and Death supports the surge of CHP patrols.

“We have to address both the supply and the demand,” Mothers Against Drug Addiction and Death member Ellen Grantz said. “So, the supply is the drug dealing. And that’s what this is about. We agree that we need much more treatment. We just don’t believe that we need supervised consumption sites.”

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is asking for federal resources. In a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland sent last week, Pelosi asked that San Francisco be included in a coordinated DEA effort that’s been in operation in Florida and Pennsylvania.

“I’m writing to request a designation of Operation Overdrive for San Francisco,” she wrote.

During the announcement for the CHP plan last week, San Francisco Mayor London Breed was flanked by members of the CHP and the National Guard. The Cal Guard will not be on the ground in uniform in the city. They’ll be part of an intelligence plan to target drug networks.

“It will send a strong message to those who are perpetrating these crimes, that are holding communities hostage,” Breed said.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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