by Amy Julia Harris, The Bay Citizen
The head of San Francisco’s juvenile probation department, troubled by a Mission District shooting between police and a former juvenile offender, is weighing whether to allow probation officers who deal with young criminals to begin carrying handguns.
William Siffermann, San Francisco’s chief juvenile probation officer, is quietly attempting to build support for the idea of arming a handful of officers who deal with the most violent offenders. He plans to raise the issue in January at a meeting of the Juvenile Probation Commission, which oversees his department.
“In my 42 years of experience, I have never seen a more critical need to provide us with an increased level of safety,” Siffermann told The Bay Citizen. “I can’t wait for something to happen and then have someone who has fallen in harm’s way say, ‘Chief, you knew officers were at risk, and you did nothing.’”
Most probation officers who handle adult and juvenile cases around the state have the authority to carry handguns. Nevertheless, Siffermann has been exceedingly cautious in floating the idea in San Francisco, where opposition to handguns in general is high.