Despite San Francisco's dubious honor as the city with the highest per capita property crime rate in the US, the number of arrests made by the San Francisco Police Department has dwindled...and with it, the number of alleged criminals prosecuted in San Francisco's courts.
“We can’t prosecute an empty chair,” San Francisco District Attorney's Office spokesperson Max Szabo told the Ex, when asked about the recently-released Superior Court fiscal year statistics from mid 2014 to mid 2015. According to Szabo, the "rate of prosecution" remains the same, it's just that with fewer arrests, fewer alleged miscreants face trial. (To his credit, Szabo refrained from blaming SF judges for the decrease.) Let's look at the numbers, shall we?
- 10.3: The percentage drop in SF's felony prosecutions of major crimes like rape, murder, robbery and assault as of mid 2014-mid 2015.
- 17: The percentage drop in misdemeanor prosecutions
- 38,112: The number of serious crimes reported in 2010
- 7,344: The number of arrests for serious crimes in 2010
- 64,870: The number of serious crimes reported in 2015
- 5,725: The number of arrests for serious crimes in 2015
- 64: The percentage rate of prosecutions from 2010 to the present
Some, like FBI Director James Comey, argue that decreasing arrest numbers can be blamed on the so-called "Ferguson Effect," which he claims "has lessened proactive policing because officers say they fear they will be accused of abuse or misconduct." Others have cited California Proposition 47, which which reduces penalties for petty, non-violent crimes, as a reason for the rapid increase in crime. Still others say that a spike in SFPD retirements left the city with fewer officers on the streets, and with fewer people making arrests, there are fewer arrestees.
But according to SFPD spokesperson Officer Carlos Manfredi, there isn't any single factor to blame, here. All these issues, Manfredi says, can have "an effect on how we can do policing” but “I don’t think there’s a real answer that sums up everything up.”
All facts and figures: Prosecutions of serious criminals on the decline as fewer arrests are made by police, SF Examiner, June 14 2016