District Attorney Chesa Boudin announces Community Liaisons program

As the Office of San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin rolls out their new Community Liaisons program, supporters gather at Mother Brown’s to discuss what it will mean for the Bayview Hunters Point community. Here, Assistant DA Edward Chang, Arieann Harrison of the Marie Harrison Community Foundation, Malik Washington, editor of the SF Bay View, Jason Young, the father of our fallen little brother Jace, Stephanie LaCambra of the DA’s Office and Gwendolyn Westbrook, CEO of the United Council of Human Services, sponsor of Mother Brown’s, call for smashing the stereotypes that lead to mass incarceration and revolutionizing the way the “system” is designed. Edward and Stephanie are here to serve our community.

by Rachel Marshall

San Francisco – San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin announced on Jan. 27 that the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office is launching a new Community Liaisons program throughout the city of San Francisco. 

The program pairs teams of District Attorney’s Office staff with each district in the city. Each Community Liaison team will be directly responsive to the district’s residents about specific needs that emerge within the district and will serve as direct liaisons between constituents and the District Attorney’s Office. The Community Liaison teams are made up entirely of volunteers within the District Attorney’s Office.

“During these especially challenging times, it is vital that our community members know where to turn for information and support in addressing neighborhood public safety concerns,” said District Attorney Chesa Boudin. “I am proud to launch this program to strengthen the ties between our office and the many different communities we represent. I commend the amazing staff members who are volunteering to lead this program and work closely with the communities we serve.”

Community Liaisons will interface with members of their assigned district and will collaborate on strategies to enhance community wellbeing and safety. The Community Liaison teams intend to work closely with the supervisors in each district as well as their staff. They will attend town halls and community events, engage with constituents and serve as direct contacts for community members to the District Attorney’s Office. 

“We are looking forward to having a continued partnership with the District Attorney’s Office so that we can continue to innovate new solutions to promote public safety and the wellbeing of all our residents.”

The program aims to tap into the office’s wealth of diversity, talent, energy and commitment to public service. Most Community Liaison teams are made up of two assistant district attorneys and one staff member. Each team will have a designated lead attorney and each team will also retain some independence on how to best engage with its district and its unique needs. This team approach will allow the office to respond more proactively and innovatively to each neighborhood’s needs, working side by side with various communities and public agency partners to problem-solve the neighborhood specific challenges. 

Before launching the program, the District Attorney’s Office reached out to the supervisors in each district across the city to explain the purpose of the program and identify specific district-level needs. David Campos, the District Attorney’s Office’s chief of staff, is formally supervising the program and Assistant District Attorneys Matthew Donahue and Azita Ghafourpour will also be helping to coordinate the program. 

In a virtual press conference Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office launched the Community Liaisons Program, which will assign a DA staff member to each city district, hopefully leading to more emphasis on the voices of residents in historically biased prosecutorial work.

The program builds off of a pilot project in District 8 led by Assistant District Attorney Donahue. Through the project, the District Attorney’s Office hosted a Castro Merchant and Worker Roundtable, and members of the office attended many community group meetings and neighborhood walks with residents. Through the pilot, the District Attorney’s Office also worked with crime victims to provide updates on cases and connect them with the prosecutors on their cases.

Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, who represents District 8, praised the pilot program and the expansion of the Community Liaison program through the whole city: “Assistant District Attorney Donahue has been an invaluable resource to the residents of District 8 and a great partner to my office. I commend DA Boudin for adding additional public safety liaisons for District 8 and expanding this level of extensive community engagement to the entire city of San Francisco.”

Other supervisors agreed. “As San Franciscans throughout the city – including in District 10 – struggle with these hard times, I am thrilled that DA Boudin is finding a way to make sure their needs are being addressed and to empower them through direct relationships with the District Attorney’s Office.” said President of the Board of Supervisors and District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton.

Supervisor Dean Preston, who represents District 5, expressed great hope for the program, particularly after the success of his recent pilot with the District Attorney’s Office to compensate small businesses who have been vandalized during the pandemic. 

“District Attorney Boudin and I have already been a great team in addressing specific needs in District 5,” he noted. “We are looking forward to having a continued partnership with the District Attorney’s Office so that we can continue to innovate new solutions to promote public safety and the wellbeing of all our residents.”

The program is launching immediately. 

Rachel Marshall is director of communications, policy adviser and assistant district attorney in the office of San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin. She can be reached by email at Rachel.Marshall@sfgov.org, by mail at 350 Rhode Island Street, North Building, Suite 400N San Francisco, CA 94103, and by phone at 628-652-4193 or 415-416-4468.