May 24, 2023 - Health

San Francisco to launch pilot program to address fentanyl crisis

San Francisco Mayor London Breed at a press conference in 2022. Photo: Gabrielle Lurie/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

San Francisco's emergency management department announced Tuesday it would launch a pilot program to address "when someone is so far under the influence of drugs that they may pose a danger to themselves or others," The San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Why it matters: San Francisco is amid a deadly drug overdose epidemic, primarily driven by the opioid fentanyl.

What's happening: Details of the program are unclear, as they will be announced next week, but Supervisor Dean Preston said he's been informed the pilot will involve arresting people who authorities deem to be exhibiting signs of public drug use, according to the Chronicle.

  • On Twitter, Preston called the plan "reactionary, cruel, and counterproductive."

Mayor London Breed, speaking before the city's Board of Supervisors Tuesday, did not share specific details about the plan, but said there is a need to "hold people accountable when their behavior on the street is disruptive to residents, families and small businesses."

  • "We will be enacting local programs to try to end this disruptive behavior," she said.

By the numbers: There were 268 accidental overdoses in San Francisco from January to April, according to a May report from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

  • A majority of those overdoses — 211— were due to fentanyl, according to the report.

Between the lines: Peskin, at the hearing, asked Breed whether she would create an emergency operation center to coordinate the police department, state agencies, the city's health department and other major agencies and direct them to shut down open-air drug dealing sites, like the one at U.N. Plaza, within 90 days.

  • Breed did not explicitly say yes or no, but she did say she has "no control or say over federal and state partners."
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