San Francisco Jails Put on Lockdown after Attacks on Deputies

April 15, 2024
At least seven San Francisco sheriff's deputies have been injured—some seriously—as attacks at jails have risen, prompting the union to call for the deployment of the National Guard.

By Christian Leonard

Source San Francisco Chronicle

The San Francisco Sheriff's Office has locked down both of its jails for the weekend after a series of incidents over the past two weeks in which seven deputies and other jail workers were injured, officials said. The rise in attacks on deputies prompted the union representing deputy sheriffs to call for Saturday deployment of the National Guard.

Some of the injuries were serious, sheriff's office spokeswoman Tara Moriarty said, but she declined Saturday to comment on whether anyone had been hospitalized.

On Sunday, the sheriff's office said it was working on a "comprehensive plan" to address the violence in its jails. The department called the union's request for the National Guard premature, saying that is not the answer to a staffing shortage and that the sheriff is committed to recruitment and hiring.

The sheriff's office expects to lift its lockdowns on its San Francisco and San Bruno jails, which together hold more than 1,100 people, at the beginning of next week. Community and family visits are canceled for the duration of the lockdown.

"The lockdown went into effect for the protection of all who work or reside in, or visit our jails, and includes cancellation of visits, programs, and services," the department said in a statement issued Saturday. "We are actively investigating these incidents to ascertain their root causes and any potential correlation. It is imperative that we identify and address the factors contributing to these assaults to prevent future occurrences.

"Attacks on deputies directly affect the safety of everyone in jail including our staff, community members who work in the jail, and the incarcerated. Normal operations should resume next week," the department said.

San Francisco Deputy Sheriffs' Association President Ken Lomba sent a letter to Sheriff Paul Miyamoto Saturday demanding that the city call in the California National Guard to supplement what he called severe staffing shortage at the jails and elsewhere.

"Their presence is crucial to provide immediate relief and enhance the safety and security of our facilities for all personnel and inmates. The California National Guard can fill positions at City Hall, Courts and Jails," Lomba wrote.

"Recent incidents, including an alarming increase in prisoner fights, attacks on prisoners by other prisoners, and injuries to civilian employees and deputy sheriffs, highlight the pressing need for additional staffing and resources within the Sheriff's Office," he wrote.

The association has pressed city officials to increase staffing levels at the jails, saying the facilities need more deputies to prevent violence from breaking out. There were 170 reported fights among people jailed in county facilities in 2022, growing to about 240 in 2023, the union said, adding that attacks on deputies increased from 120 to 220.

The sheriff's office said Sunday that "we are confident that recent safety issues and behaviors by those incarcerated will be addressed by our internal response."

David Hernandez contributed to this report.


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