We've talked before about how crime is spiking in San Francisco: some blame the income divide, others blame the passage of Prop 47, and still others blame SF's rapid population increase. Today the San Francisco Police Department's chief offers yet another explanation for why crime is on the rise — but will the solutions his department is proposing bring those numbers back down?
First, let's take a look at the year-over-year statistics. Yesterday, KRON4 complied the number of reported crimes in SF through June 2014 and compared them to the stats through June 2015. Here they are:
- Homicide: Up 71%. Through June 2014, SF had 14, through June 2015, SF had 24
- Rape: Up 7%. 135 reported through June 2014, 145 through this June.
- Robbery: Up 23%. 1529 in 2014, 1877 in 2015
- Aggravated Assault: Up 2%. 1317 in 2014, 1345 in 2015
- Burglary: Down 5%. 2775 in 2014, 2639 in 2015
- Auto Theft: Up 17%. 3175 in 2014, 3712 in 2015
- Theft from Vehicle: Up 47%. 8101 for 2014, 11917 in 2015
- Arson: Up 42%. 113 in 2014, 160 in 2015
- Other Theft: Up 9%. 8536 in 2014, 9279 in 2015
Again, these are 2014's stats through June of that year (not the full year), compared to the number reported in San Francisco through June of this year. So within those parameters, we're seeing a 13% increase in violent crime, and a 22% increase in property crimes. That's a big jump!
Earlier this month, a spokesperson for the San Francisco District Attorney's office suggested that SF crime is on the rise because cops aren't arresting criminals, telling the Chron that "I don’t want to go into what police officers are thinking or not thinking...The reality is that when arrests go down it could have an impact on crime going up." However, SFPD Chief Greg Suhr has another explanation for why property crimes are skyrocketing: a criminal vocation change.
Speaking to KTVU Thursday, Suhr says that folks that once dealt drugs have instead turned to theft as their profession of choice.
"They've now transitioned to property crime so some of these very same folks...they don't need the overhead to get into the narcotics business," Suhr said.
"These career criminals are smart enough that they're gaming the system," Suhr said, suggesting to KTVU that the problem is that "thieves are right back on the street quickly."
While it's great for someone with a job like mine when city agencies like the DA's office and SFPD squabble like this, it's far less great for those of us who are worried about getting shot over a fucking camera at one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. Enough with the political infighting, y'all. What are you going to do to fix this shit? At a press conference at the site of this week's mid-day tourist shooting, SFPD Captain David Lazar outlined some of the city's strategies to manage at least some of this crime, including (per Hoodline):
- Rehabilitation programs for criminals so they don't go back to the streets and commit more crime
- Increasing police staffing; the Board of Supervisors voted 6-5 in June to spend $11 million on hiring about 400 new officers
- Working with the District Attorney's office and judicial branch to ensure repeat criminals, even non-violent ones, are prosecuted, because a small amount of people are responsible for a vast amount of the property crimes
Will steps like these be enough to beat back the city's crime wave? Obviously, it's still too soon to tell, but Suhr says that despite that 13% increase in violent crimes, SF is still safe enough that even he doesn't feel the need to be armed.
"I live in San Francisco; I'm all over San Francisco," Hoodline quotes Suhr as saying.
"When I'm not in uniform, I'm not armed in San Francisco."