Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Perfect Crime: How the SFPD Rips Off Taxi Drivers

Last winter, the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors asked the SFPD and other City departments to cut back on overtime in order to fight the budget crises. Faced with this emergency, the cops acted as quickly as heroic policemen do on TV ... and took over illegal taxi and limo enforcement as means of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in licensing fees from taxi drivers and pumping the money into their own coffers.

Not that the police aren't busting limos and illegal cabs. Deputy Chief John Murphy of the SFPD sends out a listing of citations given almost every week. I'm talkin' 'bout the cost to us of this enforcement.

According to information obtained from the Public Records Act, from January 2010 through the first week of May, the cops:
  • Cited 85 illegal taxis and limos.
  • Handed out 247 tickets for waybill violations.
However, for these 332 hours (assuming every citation takes the police an hour), the SFPD billed the SFMTA (i.e. - the taxi industry) for 1,551 hours:
  • 1,148 of these hours (74%) were billed as overtime.
  • 843 hours (602 or 71% being overtime) were for handing out tickets to cars blocking transit lanes.
  • 297 hours (194 or 65% overtime) were for other non-taxi actions.
  • 285 hour (220 or 77%) were for "Other."
  • In short, only 21% of the actions the SFPD charged against taxi driver licensing fees had anything to do with illegal taxi and limo enforcement.
When you start looking at the details of these "police actions," it just gets better and better.
  • In early December, the SFPD replaced Sgt. Ron Reynolds, who was one of the lowest billers of overtime in the department, with Sgt. Marcic, one of the highest.
  • On 12/4/2009, 10 (yes TEN) police officers pulled over one illegal limo and billed the SFMTA (i.e. - the taxi industry) $838.07 to hand out a $137 citation.
  • On 1/16/2010, Marcic and five other police officers billed 50 OT hours for handing out one citation.
  • On 1/22/2010, 9 (that's NINE) police officers, including of course Marcic, gave out a citation at the cost of 64 hours of OT.
  • For some reason two of the cops (Officers Etcheber and Alexander, Mike) on the above bust only charged 4 hours of OT for their part (an attack of honesty?) but both of them billed an additional 2 hours straight time for an action that might be assumed to take not much more than one hour.
  • One Officer Bonnett tops a list of police persons who have billed the SFMTA (i.e. - the taxi industry) for overtime WITHOUT APPEARING IN ANY POLICE REPORT OR CITATION at 51 hours OT.
Unfortunately, the above fraudulent behavior is not limited to a few cops. It's SFPD policy. According to an e-mail sent from Deputy Chief Murphy to his boss, Chief John Haley on May 6, 2010 (obtained by a public records request):

"The salary budget (salary saving ) has 216,876 dollars or approximately 4170 hours remaining. The SFPD anticipates converting the salaried saving to OVERTIME FUNDS(My capitalization)."

That leaves 2,700 hours of OT that the SFPD has to spent before July 1, 2010 when the work order runs out. If they don't use it, they lose it.

If the cops were billing for the two or three cops and the one hour each that it would actually take to give a citation, they couldn't possibly spend the money in time.The corruption is endemic to the system that the SFPD has created.

In the meantime,there were 4 straight time positions that were eliminated from Taxi Services in order to create this OVERTIME FUND.Except for field work that was performed by police officers in the Taxi Detail, all of their jobs are now being performed by one clerk at the SFMTA including:
  • Taking new driver permit applications,
  • Training new taxicab drivers,
  • Discipling and retraining drivers,
  • 311 complaints,
  • Lost and found.
And this won't end on July 1st. The SFPD has put a $749,000 work order on next year's budget to insure that the officers can eat at better places than Happy Donuts.

The SFMTA budget has yet to be okayed by the Board of Supervisors for next year. If you don't like the SFPD ripping us off Supervisors Ross Mirkarimi and David Campos have both been very active in questioning police about overtime at recent budget hearings.

You can contact them at:

Supervisor Ross Markarimi
phone: (415) 554.7630

Supervisor David Campos
phone: (415) 554-5154

There is special meeting of the Board of Supervisor's Budget and Finance Committee on Monday, June 21st at 10.00 am.

The San Francisco Police Commission meets every Wednesday in room 400 of City Hall at 5:30 pm. They love to hear from cab drivers.


  1. Rumor has it that Marcic is security chief for yellow and he spends the time he is paid to work for the industry working on YCC's concerns and problems.
    Another rumor has it that those citations given out get dumped because cops don't do the required follow up. There is something called re-booking I hear.
    Again I don't know if what I'm repeating is true but my sources are good.
    This is Matier and Ross stuff.
    As an after thought I just wonder if the DeSoto driver was desperate to collect his fare before looking into his mechanical problems such is the satte of business these days.

  2. Hi Crocker.
    Dick here, yes indeed that poor couple died because of the want for fourty dollors, an unfit cab and total inexperience. What a tragedy. Have you retired????

  3. No I haven't retired. I was on vacation in China