Three auto burglary suspects were charged with multiple felonies by San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin on Tuesday, the latest in a series of arrests, court decisions, and political maneuvers that are distancing himself away from more progressive actions that led to many more criminals not being prosecuted during the last few years and to a higher crime rate.
Since being sworn into office in January 2020, Boudin quickly drew the ire of many residents for removing crime categories and refusing to prosecute most criminals in the city. These measures, which in addition to an already rising crime rate, lingering effects of the increased felony threshold rate Prop 47 law, and the COVID-19 pandemic, led to skyrocketing crime numbers in San Francisco in 2020, with figures remaining high in 2021 across most categories.
Retail groups have blamed Boudin personally for the high crime rates, with many businesses, such as Walgreens, pulling many stores from the city because of how much money they lost in the past few years from thefts and un-prosecuted criminals. This all led to a successful signature gathering effort last year to recall Boudin, with the recall election to be held in June along with the primary election.
After being certified for an election in November, Boudin continued to push his prosecution reform plan, despite high crime levels still pushing out many residents and retail stores, the SFPD pulling away from the DA’s office by terminating their police misconduct investigation agreement, Mayor London Breed personally leading crackdowns in some districts of the city despite Boudin opposing it, and growing discontent from city residents in general.
However, last month San Francisco shocked the nation by successfully recalling three progressive school board members over a variety of issues. That, in addition to a successful Shasta County Board of Supervisors Recall, a growing movement to recall Los Angeles County DA George Gascon, and lingering steam from last years attempt to recall Governor Gavin Newsom, as well as crime rates still remaining high, have caused Boudin to move slightly away from his more progressive actions in the last several weeks.
The latest prosecution by the SF DA’s office
Police officers who have been found not guilty of police brutality in San Francisco have been quietly left to go back without any further action from the DA’s office. And many criminals, who would have likely not been prosecuted before, are now being prosecuted by the DA’s office, including the three on Tuesday. Boudin announced that Tomiko Miller, Deshawn Patton, and Michael Menifee-Patton were charged with four counts of second degree burglary, four counts of receiving stolen property, one count of felon in possession of a firearm, one count of resisting arrest, and other charges. Al three were observed breaking into cars, with Miller also receiving additional robbery charges for participating in the Union Square robberies last year and cutting off his ankle monitor after previously being released by a judge.
“Auto burglaries have plagued this city for far too many years; I will do everything in my power to put an end to this scourge. I have a simple message for auto burglars: if you get arrested you will be held accountable,” Boudin said in a press release on Tuesday. “Our office will once again ask the court for detention in this case and hope that the court will reevaluate its prior ruling and now order Mr. Miller to be held in custody pending trial.”
Boudin’s more willingness to prosecute, as well as many lawmakers, including Mayor Breed moving from supporting Boudin’s recall to being undecided, have marked an unusual change in San Francisco. Many political observers have noted that with less than three months to go before the recall election in June, Boudin is now trying to build back his credentials and possibly start to reverse the crime rise in the city before voters go to the polls.
“The School Board members being recalled obviously spooked him,” said Bay Area political issue consultant Hannah Reed to the Globe on Tuesday. “Boudin still obviously feels like he is doing the right thing with his stances on prosecuting criminals and trying to bring more social justice and reducing the jailed population, but he and his policies have been blamed for so much of the crime problem in the city. Enough San Franciscans decided that they don’t like him enough to put him on a recall ballot, and the number willing to recall more left-leaning elected officials reached a threshold last month with those school board members being recalled.”
“Boudin needs to find a way to reverse this all quickly, and while he isn’t exactly doing a crackdown or removing any of his policies, he’s starting to be nicer to the SFPD and prosecuting more than he had been. We’ll probably see more publicized prosecutions as the election nears, probably around the more in the news crimes that have popped up, to show that he isn’t creating a revolving door.”
“One thing is for sure. Residents want crime to go way down, fast. Boudin needs to show results by May if he wants to survive the recall. Being DA is not an easy job at all, and fixing crime rates in a big city is like steering an ocean liner, but he needs to at least show he is making an effort to change. It looks like he is beginning to now. Two months is a long time, but also short. It’s what he needs to do to defeat the recall.”
More details on impending San Francisco prosecutions are expected soon.
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