CHP and Cal Guard combat Fentanyl in San Francisco.

On Monday, California Highway Patrol officers began patrolling San Francisco’s Tenderloin and South of Market districts to help tackle the city’s fentanyl crisis. The move is part of Governor Gavin Newsom’s efforts to address the issue, as deadly overdoses continue to rise in San Francisco. According to the medical examiner’s office, 200 people died of accidental overdoses in the city during the first four months of this year, with 159 of those deaths attributed to Fentanyl. Most of the deaths occurred in 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. However, the city supervisor representing the Tenderloin has dismissed the move as more of a show than an actual solution. While supporters of the effort are cautiously optimistic, Supervisor Dean Preston insists that the fentanyl crisis is a public health issue and advocates for supervised consumption sites, rather than relying on law enforcement to crack down on the problem.

Mothers Against Drug Addiction and Death support the surge of CHP patrols, as the increased law enforcement presence aims to address both the supply and demand sides of the issue. But former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for federal resources to address the fentanyl crisis in San Francisco. In a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, Pelosi requested that San Francisco be included in a coordinated DEA effort that’s been in operation in Florida and Pennsylvania.

During the announcement of the CHP plan last week, San Francisco Mayor London Breed emphasized the need to confront drug networks and called the CHP’s deployment a strong message to those “perpetrating these crimes” and “holding communities hostage.” Flanked by members of the CHP and the National Guard during the announcement, Mayor Breed clarified that the Cal Guard will not be on the ground in uniform in the city. Instead, they will be part of an intelligence plan to target drug networks.

Efforts to tackle San Francisco’s fentanyl crisis continue, with different stakeholders pushing for different solutions. While the increased law enforcement presence through CHP patrols is one step in confronting the issue, advocates insist that public health-centered approaches such as supervised consumption sites are also essential in addressing the root causes of the crisis.

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