SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — San Francisco Mayor London Breed has proposed what could be a temporary solution to the San Francisco Police Department’s ongoing staffing shortage. On Thursday, the mayor released a proposal calling for an expansion of SFPD’s Reserve Police Officer Program in order to expedite an increase in foot patrols across the city.

The SFPD Reserve Police Officer Program was introduced in 1942, according to the mayor’s office, and was originally called the Police Auxiliary Reserve. The program was introduced to allow the city to be able to call up up to 800 reserve officers to assist in the event of a natural disaster, sabotage or enemy attack.

Reserve officers work a minimum of 20 hours a month, including four hours of mandatory, ongoing training. The mayor’s new proposal will require updating administrative code to allow reservists to be compensated and establish new eligibility requirements that are currently under discussion.

Mayor Breed’s proposal would allow for 30 reserve officers to be immediately deployed to high profile foot beat assignments across the city, if approved. While the proposal’s goal is to expand the number of available officers for foot patrol, it does not supersede the mayor’s goal to fully staff the department.

“As we work to address our long-term staffing needs, this program can help us to add foot beats where we need them in our merchant corridors,” said Mayor London Breed. “Getting more patrol officers out on our streets will help our small businesses, workers, and residents feel safe, and improve our neighborhoods across the City.”  

“We love the retired police officer ambassadors who walk Sunset merchant corridors. They provide much-needed eyes and ears. But they can only call-in problems and don’t have the power to make arrests. Small business owners are asking for patrols with the full authority of regular police officers and expanding the reserve program allows for that,” said Supervisor Joel Engardio, who represents the Sunset neighborhoods of District 4. “We have an extreme shortage of police officers. A combination of unarmed ambassadors — city workers in yellow jackets, retired police in blue jackets — along with armed police reservists in full uniform can temporarily fill the gap. We still need to recruit and hire hundreds of new officers.”

“We want to get more officers on the beat as soon as possible,” said Chief Bill Scott. “Our department is understaffed, and while our officers have been doing an outstanding job with the resources we have, we will do everything in our power to give them some assistance. Expanding our Reserve Officer Program would do just that.”  

Currently, there are 30 reserve officers including retired police officers and people who have passed the selection, testing and exam criteria, along with background and security clearances.

While the city still needs to recruit and hire hundreds of new officers, according to the mayor’s office, it’s hoped that the introduction of armed reservists in full uniform can help fill the gap.