From Supervisor Scott Wiener:
We’ve recently seen an escalation of crime in District 8 (and other parts of the city), including auto break-ins and thefts, home break-ins, home invasions, and most recently an assault with a knife in Noe Valley. To discuss the situation, including ways to make our community safer and how to have strong communication between the police and the community, I’ll be convening a District 8 public safety meeting, with our police, District Attorney’s Office, and others, in January. Stay tuned for exact date and location.
Since taking office, I’ve worked to improve safety in our neighborhoods. Our police department is badly under-staffed, due to years (approximately 2005-2010) of the city not funding police academy classes. Thus, as our city grew by 100,000 people, our police department shrunk by over 300 officers (from 2,000 to under 1,700) due to no hiring and a (very predictable) wave of retirements. In my first year in office, 2011, I worked with several colleagues to fund our first new academy class in years. Since then, I have worked with the Mayor and colleagues to fund at least 3 academy classes every year; in the current fiscal year, we are funding 5 classes, which is extraordinary. For the first few years, hiring was offset by continued retirements, but the department is now finally growing. We expect staffing to be back up to around 2,000 officers by 2017. (Each academy class is 6-7 months – we want well-trained police officers, so hiring is not a fast process.)
Earlier this year, I authored legislation making it city policy to tie police staffing to population growth and to increase our staffing goal from 2,000 officers (a number set in the 1980s when we were a smaller city) to 2,200-2,300. According to an analysis I requested, San Francisco’s police staffing – when adjusted for population and when compared to per capita staffing in peer cities – is significantly short. A minimum of 2,200 officers is required to get us to an appropriate level. It will take significant and consistent political will to make this happen, as I have colleagues on the Board of Supervisors who do not support increased police staffing.
We will continue to work to improve police staffing and response in our neighborhoods. We need more officers walking beats, more traffic enforcement, and more focus on property crimes. And, it’s important for the police, the District Attorney, the courts, our probation departments, and our community service providers to work together to ensure accountability for crime, as well as strong efforts at rehabilitation to reduce recidivism.
It’s also important for neighbors to work to protect our neighborhoods. If your block isn’t already organized as a neighborhood watch, please consider doing so. You can work with SF SAFE (www.sfsafe.org) to organize a watch. Please keep your porch lights on if there are lighting issues on your block. And, you have the option of installing video surveillance by your front door. Video has helped the police make arrests recently.
I look forward to discussing ways to address these and other issues at the January community meeting. In the meantime, do not hesitate to be in touch with me about public safety issues, and please report all crimes to the police.
-Supervisor Scott Wiener