San Francisco Mayor London Breed and SFPD Chief Bill Scott gave a joint press conference Wednesday to discuss 2021 crime statistics in the city, and while violent crime is up from 2020, other types of crime decreased.
"It been a very, very challenging two years," Breed said, kicking off Wednesday's press conference. "We say that over and over again, but we also understand the challenges that everyone is living with."
"Sadly, we have seen certain crime statistics increase," she continued, "but others have decreased... Nothing is more important [to me] than to make sure that people who live in this city, people who work in this city, people who visit San Francisco feel safe walking down the street."
Breed also used her remarks to press for the Board of Supervisors to approve supplemental funding to the SFPD for stepping up police presence in the Tenderloin as part of her emergency declaration last month — which remains a somewhat controversial topic.
Scott led off talking about how crime statistics don't always tell a complete story for a city, because so many crimes go unreported — and statistics only reflect crimes that are reported. He said that a homicide count remains the "purest" statistic in that sense, because homicides are nearly always reported and counted in a given year, and 2021 saw a rise in homicides in San Francisco, continuing a trend from 2020 following a record-low year for homicides in 2019.
"56 homicides in San Francisco is a big deal," Chief Scott said of last year's total. "And it's something that we're committed to turning around."
Gun violence was up overall in the city in 2021, and Scott suggested that some of this — and the rise in homicides — has links to cases in other parts of the Bay Area. (Oakland also had an extremely violent 2021, for instance.) In total, there were 222 victims of gun violence in San Francisco last year, up from 167 in 2020, and 137 in 2019. That level of gun violence hasn't been present in SF since 2016, when there were 223 shooting victims.
But other types of crime, including rape, robbery, and burglary, all saw dips in 2021 — though larceny, the category that covers everything from shoplifting, to bicycle theft, to car break-ins, was up over 22% year over year.
Burglaries remain way up from the pre-pandemic years of 2017 to 2019, and Chief Scott acknowledged that "we still have a lot of work to do" to turn that trend around. He did note, without specifics, that getting certain, prolific burglary suspects in custody last year led to decreases in property crime in certain neighborhoods where they were active.
Overall, counting all types of crime, incidents were up 12% in 2021 over 2020.
In the Mission District, both violent crime and property crime was up over 10% — but robberies, sexual assaults, and aggravated assaults were still well below 2019 levels in the neighborhood.
Chief Scott also noted that auto thefts were still up significantly in the city from pre-pandemic times, which is a trend that has been seen nationally.
You can watch the whole press conference below: