San Francisco mayor says police will stop responding to non-criminal calls

San Francisco Mayor London Breed on Thursday said police will no longer respond to non-criminal calls as part of a major reform of the department.

Breed said in a news release that for calls that don't involve a threat to public safety, police would be replaced by trained, unarmed professionals to limit unnecessary confrontation between the police department and the community.

The non-criminal calls will include neighbor disputes, reports on homeless people and school discipline interventions, among other activities.

“San Francisco has made progress reforming our police department, but we know that we still have significant work to do,” Breed said in the release. “We know that a lack of equity in our society overall leads to a lot of the problems that police are being asked to solve. We are going to keep going with these additional reforms and continuing to find ways to reinvest in communities that have historically been underserved and harmed by systemic racism.”

As part of police reforms, San Francisco will also strengthen accountability policies, ban the use of military-grade weapons and divert funding to the African-American community, Breed said.

FILE: San Francisco Mayor London Breed speaks to a group protesting police racism outside City Hall in San Francisco. 

FILE: San Francisco Mayor London Breed speaks to a group protesting police racism outside City Hall in San Francisco.  (AP)

The reforms did not specify exactly how the city would fund its new policy or how it will be implemented.

The city will develop its plan over the next year and follow models like the Cahoots program in Eugene, Ore., Breed said. That community-based crisis program employs social workers and mental health workers to respond to disturbances where crimes are not being committed.

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Police Chief William Scott said the mayor’s new initiatives are consistent with the department’s aspirations to be a “national model in 21st century policing.”

“We understand that it’s necessary for law enforcement to listen to African-American communities and embrace courageous changes to address disparate policing practices, and we recognize it will take sacrifice on our part to fulfill the promise of reform,” Scott said. 

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The reforms come amid nationwide protests against police misconduct following the death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police late last month.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.