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San Francisco TV reporter robbed of camera at gunpoint

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A television news reporter investigating a series of car break-ins in and around San Francisco’s Twin Peaks was robbed of his camera at gunpoint.

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KPIX reporter Don Ford was preparing to interview nearby homeowners for a reaction to the break-ins when four men pulled up in a white luxury sedan.

“The car came up here while we were about to do an interview, three guys jumped out. One had a gun and put in my face and said, ‘We’re taking the camera’,” Ford told the news station on Wednesday.”My whole thought at the moment was be calm. Let’s not get this guy excited. He’s got the gun. I don’t. So you take you the camera. It’s yours Buddy.”

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Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, who represents the city’s District 8, which includes Twin Peaks, said authorities were working to find the individuals responsible and recover the camera.

He called the incident “ridiculous & unacceptable but not entirely unexpected in San Francisco in 2021.”

“We need to adequately resource public safety agencies, adopt better strategies to stop repeat offenders & make clear that San Francisco is not a place that you can commit crimes & put people’s lives at risk with impunity,” he added.

The San Francisco Police Department saw a $25 million budget cut between fiscal year 2020 and fiscal year 2021, going from $692.9 million to $667.9 million. 

In December, San Francisco Mayor London Breed directed all city departments to propose ongoing reductions equal to 7.5% of adjusted general fund support, and an additional 2.5% contingency proposal if the pandemic gets worse. She also asked departments to “prioritize core services” and “present clear tradeoffs when presenting proposed reductions.”

San Francisco is projecting a budget shortfall of approximately $653.2 million over the upcoming two budget years, out of an annual general fund budget of approximately $6 billion. Breed said the shortfall is a result of “slower than expected revenue growth, costs for employee salaries and benefits, and additional costs to respond to COVID-19.”

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According to a two-year budget proposal that was presented to the San Francisco Police Commission last month, the department estimates its base budget must reduce adjusted general fund support by nearly $37 million and reduce an additional $12 million for contingency should fiscal conditions worsen.

Fiscal year 2021 and 2022 budget reductions proposed include cuts to all vacant positions, vehicle replacements, three out of four academy classes over the next two years, an $8 million cut to overtime in fiscal 2021, a $12 million cut to overtime in fiscal 2022 and no funding for technology or capital improvements.

The 7.5% general fund cuts are estimated to result in layoffs for 167 sworn officers and 43 civilian personnel. Of the 167 officers who would be laid off, 30 percent would be Latino, 28 percent would be Asian and 9 percent would be Black. The department is currently 18 percent Latino, 17 percent Asian and 10 percent Black. Police added that the additional 2.5% contingency cut could mean layoffs for an additional 56 officers and 14 civilian personnel. 

The SFPD projected as part of its proposed budget that it could have as few as 1,502 officers by 2023 if no academy classes are funded and sworn staffers are laid off. The police budget for fiscal year 2022 is expected to drop to $603 million if the reductions are implemented.

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The latest incident comes as citywide burglaries and motor vehicle thefts are on the rise. According to the city’s latest crime data, burglaries are up 59.4% and motor vehicle thefts are up 20.8% so far this year. 

The SFPD’s Park Station said Ford’s camera was recovered on Thursday and that the incident remains an active and ongoing investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call the SFPD tip line at 1-415-575-444 or text a tip to TIP4111 and begin the text message with SFPD. 

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