San Francisco Mayor London Breed and San Francisco Police Department Chief Bill Scott announced the mid-year crime statistics of San Francisco, showing a general uptick in crime in the city.
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Increases were shown in many violent crime categories. Mid-year homicide rates went up to their highest levels since 2017 while gun violence crimes stood at 119 so far this year, the highest it has been in decades. Burglaries also reached their highest point in recent decades, capping out at 3,717 at the end of June. Other crimes, such as auto thefts, also rose slightly from recent years but still reflected an overall lower total from figures in the mid-2010’s.
“We are trying to get a handle on this issue,” said SFPD Chief Scott on Monday, blaming unregistered weapons such as ‘ghost guns’ for the rise in firearms incidents. “We are addressing this with ATF and federal partners, hoping to continue confiscating these guns so they won’t be in the hands of people driving gun violence.
“We can always do better – but we are not doing terribly. What is proven is cops matter, when we increased foot patrol in the Tenderloin, assaults went down.”
Mayor Breed added that many of the crime increases were tied to only select groups of people, and that putting money into crime prevention was the best way to combat those higher rates.
“In fact, when we talk about the burglaries and the car break-ins, at least a thousand car break-ins every single month perpetrated by 10 groups of people. So when those folks are arrested, we see those car break-ins go down significantly,” added Mayor Breed. “At the end of the day, we have to make sure that accountability is a part of this. And one of the big conversations that is happening around defunding the police is not taking into account all the incredible work San Francisco has done to invest in programs that help to prevent crimes from happening in the first place.”
Some reductions were also noted during the press conference. Rapes and robberies both plummeted to new lows so far this year, with assaults and larcenies also showing significant losses. Only 88 rapes have been reported in the city so far this year, the first time it has come under 100 in recent years.
However, Chief Scott and other law enforcement officials noted that while increased police activity has helped reduce many rates, more people coming out post-lockdown could significantly change those trends in the second-half of 2021.
“If you look at the statistics, 2020 crime figures were significantly lower in some categories, and significantly higher in others. There was no slight increase/decrease middle ground,” said “Ramon,” a former SFPD police officer who is now an officer in another city, to the Globe on Monday. “More people stayed at home, so crime shifted either up or down based on where it would be more successful and where it could be done. “No one is out, so rapes go down. But more people aren’t in businesses so burglaries go up.”
“Plus, with the extra federal money on unemployment ending soon, a lot of people will be cut off. So while that may help the job market, some may turn to crime. The trend isn’t hard to see. San Francisco’s figures are just higher than elsewhere because of where the city finds itself in 2021.”
SF crime rises while SFPD is defunded
Mayor Breed defended the SFPD, noting the tough job that they have had in the past year and a half.
“Sadly, as it relates to crime, we’ve gotten a lot of negative attention, added Breed. “What is not getting the attention is the fact what you do come to San Francisco and commit a crime, you will be arrested by this police department. Our investigators and the work they do to bring people to justice has been extraordinary.”
However, a lot of blame on the general increase in crime has been pinned on defunding and DA Chesa Boudin refusing to prosecute many criminals. While Breed largely defended the city defunding the SFPD of $120 million into more social programs to reduce crime, Chief Scott noted that the defunding has left the city 400 officers short of what is needed for a city the size of San Francisco.
“This not a one-year thing,” stressed Scott on Monday. “The mayor did all she could to keep us from getting smaller. Recruitment is very hard right now. It’s really important that we take a step back and remember that statistics represent people.”
Other experts agreed.
“You can really see how dangerous defunding can be,” continued Ramon. “It’s good that we’re thinking of alternate ways to reduce crime, but when it starts hurting people like this, you have to ask yourself if it is really worth it.”
Other cities are expected to release half-year crime statistics soon.
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