SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Mayor London Breed and SFPD Chief Bill Scott released crime statistics for San Francisco so far this year Monday morning, acknowledging increases in some violent crimes and burglaries while noting certain types of crime had actually decreased.
Both Mayor Breed and Chief Scott spoke at the first “CompStat” crime report for the year, saying that the department can make improvements in the areas of aggravated assaults and burglaries, but emphasizing the arrests that have been made in connection with violent crimes in the city.READ MORE: PG&E to Face Criminal Charges Over Deadly Zogg Fire in Shasta County
Breed provided a brief introduction before Scott got into the specifics about the crime statistics for San Francisco in 2021. She touted the number of arrests that the department has made in connection with high-profile crimes including the fatal shooting of Jace Young and a number of attacks on older Asian residents. She also argued that viral videos of crimes happening in San Francisco are driving a perception that crime is on the upswing.
“Sadly, as it relates to crime, we’ve gotten a lot of negative attention,” said 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.”
The mayor and the chief talked about what police describe as a “troubling increase” in burglaries with more than 3,700 – the highest number since 2015 and a 50% increase since 2019. Breed pointed out that many of the crimes that had seen a significant increase such as burglaries and car break-ins were being committed by a small group of individuals, some of whom had already been arrested.
“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,” said 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.”
Breed also pointed out that her budget for the city was aimed at increasing the number of officers on the street to help address the areas where crime had gone up as well as for crime prevention and services for crime victims.
“An unprecedented investment of $65 million in my budget to help with street violence prevention, to help with victims services,” said Breed. “There is a lot of investment going into preventing these crimes from happening.”
The mayor likened the approach that her office is taking with crime to what San Francisco did in terms of the pandemic, highlighting the need to have the money to get officers on the street to do the job of both investigating and deterring crime.
“Going back to COVID, we used the data, we used the science, when it came to talking about how we should make investments; what we should do as a city,” said Breed. “And that’s what we did in this year’s budget.”
“There is a lot of misinformation out there about what is going on in San Francisco. We know that numbers don’t matter when you’re the victim of a crime; any crime, in any capacity,” Breed continued. “But at the end of the day, we have to use this data to make a decision about our policies and our investment. In the coming months, we are going to be making some significant changes. we are not prepared to reveal all of our plans to help address some of these issues around these retail thefts and holding companies accountable like Amazon and other places who do not do their due diligence to vet these stolen goods. Or the issues around prosecution of misdemeanors or other things. We have to definitely make sure there are tools to hold people accountable. As we move forward, we need police officers. We have a number of officers retiring. This work just doesn’t happen.”
Scott said some of the viral videos seen circulating on social media of bold crimes in action affect people in a certain way and said he doesn’t want the perception of lawlessness you see here to reflect on the city as a whole.
“There’s no statistic for brazenness. What we see in some of these videos of brazen, heinous crimes, there’s no statistic for what that does to our outlook and how we perceive what’s happening in our city,” he said. “And that’s why police officers are so important; they balance that fear of crime.”
Scott pointed out that last year was, as he described it, “an aberration” in terms of the pandemic forcing people to stay inside their homes during the lockdown and driving down crime in some categories.READ MORE: COVID Surge: Santa Clara County To Require Its 22,000 Workers To Be Vaccinated
Gun violence incidents had nearly doubled in terms of the number of incidents over the past two years with 26 homicides so far this year in San Francisco, though Scott said the increase comes after a 58-year low just two years ago.
There have also been 119 incidents of gun violence in San Francisco this year compared to 58 incidents last year. Still, the chief touted the fact that San Francisco police investigators are clearing homicide cases at a rate of about 90% currently.
Aggravated assaults were also up to almost 1,100. Scott acknowledged the importance of bringing the numbers in those categories down.
“We have to get a handle on this,” said Scott.
Scott said that part of the problem with the increased number of incidents of gun violence was the issue with ghost guns and unregistered weapons in the city. He also noted that there has been a decrease in sexual assaults overall, though the number of cases increased between May and June. Robberies were also down year to year according to the new statistics.
Scott highlighted the increased deployment of officers and more overtime hours worked for officers as ways to decrease crime in San Francisco’s problem areas, but noted the department remains about 400 officers short of their recommended staffing levels.
While Scott wouldn’t criticize San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, he did emphasize the importance of repeat offenders being kept in custody to reduce the number of crimes being committed.
“We need some of these folks to be detained. If a person has been arrested five times, when did we detain them?” asked Scott. “They need to not be committing more crimes while waiting for their day in court.”
Scott noted these aren’t just statistics; each number represents a family affected, like that of Vicha Ratanapakdee. He was fatally injured when an assailant shoved him to the ground on a morning walk in January in the Anza Vista neighborhood.
“We want to raise awareness for our community to be safe. We don’t want another family to be attacked like my father,” said his daughter Kim Lawson.
“Don’t put your ideals above public safety,” added Ratanapakdee’s son-in-law Eric Lawson
Breed said accountability is needed through to prosecution and that her budget includes funding for 11 more positions in the District Attorney’s office to combat crime.
“There are women whose sons have been murdered and they want the killer of their kid brought to justice, and I believe in making sure someone is brought to justice. And I’d like to see more of that happen, with people who are actually guilty of these crimes held accountable,” said Breed.MORE NEWS: Roadwork Planned on Highway 37 in Solano, Sonoma Counties
Andria Borba contributed to this story.