Brooke Jenkins hasn’t avoided controversy.
After resigning from the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, she became a vocal critic of her former boss, Chesa Boudin, and led a campaign to successfully remove him from office.
But now, after replacing the progressive icon with the city’s chief prosecutor, she’s trying to distance herself from political “distractions” so she can focus more on the actual work her office does. increase.
With less than two months to go before Election Day, Jenkins is leading a poll that overwhelms the opposition. But, as she has repeatedly said in public, showing San Francisco citizens that her office will make the city safer and hold criminals accountable remains her biggest challenge.
The Standard recently interviewed Jenkins as part of a series about four vying for the city’s next DA. Below is a transcript of the conversation, edited for clarity and length.
You’ve been SF’s Attorney General for two months. Does the job meet your expectations? Or even crazier?
It certainly matches my expectations. Of course it is very demanding.
Our city is in jeopardy and the prosecutor’s office is in jeopardy because it lost over 60 prosecutors and had to reorganize management to gather people with prosecutor experience. I was.
So it’s tough, but like I said, it’s highly anticipated.
Science fiction politics is very aggressive. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since taking office?
Unfortunately, there are people who are more concerned with politics than with solutions. That’s something I have to get used to.
I am solution oriented. I would like to move the city without fail. I feel it is my duty. So it’s hard when people don’t want that and want to focus on politics.
Controversy over DA staffing has been consistent since you took office. Your first administrative staff member secretly taped his meeting, then fired 12 lawyers and quit many more. Is the office still in flux or stable?
much more stable.
I think the first step was to have an experienced prosecutor in the office. Another thing is to make sure the lawyer can do their job effectively and nothing to worry about.
We all understand that the core of this work is not political. There are victims who need justice. We need to enable criminals to rehabilitate and reintegrate into society. People are focused on their work. I think a lot of the politicization remains.
I’ve heard that you are a volunteer spokesperson for the DA Recall and are also paid by three non-profit organizations involved in the recall. Did your relationship with Recall help you get hired by three nonprofits?
I was indeed… introduced to the organization by people I met during the recall, but the two weren’t connected.
SF has been hit by a drug crisis and has implemented several new policies, including increasing prison sentences for those accused of drug dealers. How can we measure the success of these efforts?
My hope is that we no longer see 30-40 drug dealers on one block on the street. That’s the goal. We are taking steps to discourage people from thinking that coming to sell drugs in San Francisco is not risky.
The (former) Attorney’s Office had effectively decriminalized drug sales, so they didn’t really see results. Because it’s our communities of color, our immigrant communities, that suffer from not only these sellers hitting the streets, but attracting addicts and generating violence. And other kinds of collateral consequences for that action.
And do you think it’s a so-called war on drugs tactic?
I understand that many people would like to use that term, but I think we need to understand that we are in a different place in history now.
I have never seen a more lethal drug on the street than fentanyl. We are losing San Francisco citizens every day to overdose. And we, as a city, and certainly as an office of the DA, have a duty to ensure that people struggling with addiction are kept safe.
We can’t allow the street to sell something that costs 2 milligrams to kill a person.
You’re from Union City, and it’s been less than a year since you quit your job as a prosecutor and moved to San Francisco. What made you want to live here?
To get closer to the people I represented.
I have represented the people of this city for many years. It’s my favorite city. I spent a lot of time here and my children were born here. My husband has many families in this city. So for me it was just being on the ground with the people I was fighting.
You’ve been very vocal about keeping the Asian American community safe while holding criminals accountable. Since taking office, have you ever filed a hate crime complaint involving a victim of Asian descent?
We prosecuted Mrs. Wren’s case. This elderly woman was brutally assaulted and robbed at her building. It also prosecuted the (assault) case of Commissioner Chu in particular.
In both cases, no hate crime charges have been filed.
I was once the designated Hate Crime Prosecutor in this city, so I know first-hand what it takes to prosecute and prove a hate crime. . You have to be able to get inside a person’s head and show the jury what they were thinking when they committed another crime.
What I mean is that I certainly recognize that I believe racism takes place. We have to figure out how to deal with it. If so, the law should allow those crimes and problems to be prosecuted. Enough.
So when it comes to prosecuting hate crimes, it’s easier said than done.
In a way, yes. I hate to say it that way.
If you feel targeted because of how you look, you should charge a fee that reflects how you feel. And when you can’t provide that, that’s a struggle as a prosecutor.
Unfortunately, the way the law was enacted requires proof of actual hatred or enmity. And that’s where it gets hard to prove what’s going on in someone’s mind, if you don’t have a statement or a text his message or a post on social media or anything like that, you can show that evidence. It will be very difficult to provide.
Right or wrong, Chesa Boudin was blamed for many of the city’s biggest problems, even though many of them existed before he took office. Do you have a better understanding of the pressure he was under now?
that’s right. Even as a prosecutor, he understands the pressure to make people in this city feel safe.
I always knew that this was hard work. My problem was that as a DA I had to do everything in my power to deter crime and deter crime. My problem with him was his refusal to deter criminal activity and his refusal to hold people accountable in many situations.
Because I am my own person.
I appreciate the mayor’s support from the office in the first place. Frankly, when I walked into his DA office, Chesa and his chief of staff had approved an extended leave of absence for nearly everyone on the executive management team.
The mayor never tried to dictate how I should do this job. I interviewed multiple people for that (chief of staff) position and chose the ones I thought were competent. I hope the mayor will support the district attorney. We are both city leaders. We both have a city to serve. And I think this is what the city wants.
I think they are… a distraction from reality.
I think the majority of the city wants not just the mayor’s office, but the oversight board, the police chief, and everyone else to be in the same line as me. They want a safer city, and all city leaders need to come together to make that a priority.
Polls show you are ahead of three opponents. So if you win, how would you describe your success? Or how should the press hold you accountable?
It is up to you to decide whether you believe that I am implementing a policy that you believe may succeed. Do you see success? am i listening? And are we doing our best to give voters what they think they need?
I think those are measuring sticks.
SF previously had a black female DA. Kamala Harris is currently Vice President of the United States. What do you think about being called Kamala Harris 2.0?
Of course, I think it’s kind of flattering, but I’m who I am. I just want to be seen as Brooke Jenkins.
I loved being a prosecutor with all my heart. And I want people to know me and know how I care about this city, that I really care and that I want to be an advocate for victims. , we want to make this system fairer for everyone involved.
Hopefully I will be on Brooke 1.0.