Mayor & SFPD Chief Share Midyear Crime Stats, Highlight Safety Priorities
During a press conference Mon., July 12, San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) Chief William Scott and Mayor London Breed presented the latest CompStat report through the first half of 2021 and also underscored public safety priorities in San Francisco.
Following her introduction by Chief Scott, Mayor Breed acknowledged that while San Francisco has received very favorable feedback due to its stellar COVID-19 response, it has also been criticized due to certain crimes, some of which can be viewed on social media videos.
“But what’s not going viral, what’s not being brought to the forefront, is the fact that in almost every single instance, our police department have arrested many of the people in these particular crimes…,” said the mayor.
Following Mayor Breed’s remarks, the chief returned to the podium and noted, “We cannot arrest our way out of problems. But we do need to make arrests—make no mistake about it—we need to hold people accountable.”
The chief also added that the other side of the equation is maintaining adequate staffing levels so that the SFPD can continue to meet community public safety needs. According to a recent City Beat Poll, 75 percent of San Francisco residents want to see more officers in high crime areas, as well as in their community in
Chief Scott went on express his appreciation to Mayor Breed for her leadership, as well as to local community members for backing the need for proper police staffing levels so that the SFPD can continue to keep the city safe.
Before launching into the CompStat midyear crime stats review, the chief took a moment to highlight that the numbers represent real people—those personally impacted by violence and homicide, or people’s privacy invaded by burglaries. He shared that is why the SFPD Community Liaison Unit is critical to support people and help them navigate the system in order to access the resources they need.
Here’s the rundown of the chief’s highlights from the CompStat report:
Homicide: Per the chief, the focus is on strategies through partnership. The SFPD’s investigators do a phenomenal job, though he said they need to address root causes, i.e., what can they do for people involved and most at risk to prevent these crimes. While he said that, ultimately the SFPD is a conduit to get services to people who need it most in order to interrupt cycles of violence, the department’s main job is to keep people safe.
Gun Violence: Chief Scott reported that gun violence is significantly up and that the main issue is illegal ghost guns; unserialized, homemade, dangerous, unregulated and untraceable, they are a major threat to people’s safety in the city. He said the SFPD is working with federal partners on a number of tactics to take guns off of the street, so that they can’t get in the hands of the people driving these numbers up in the first place, i.e. prevention.
Sexual Assault: Per the chief, there has been a significant drop in sexual assault, although any number of victims is too many. The department is working directly with the advocate community to improve the services and treatment available for victims, while staying focused on any variation in this crime category.
Robbery: According to Chief Scott, and as the mayor alluded to, videos drive public perception, which understandably can make residents think things are out of control, although the reality of the situation is that the trend of robberies in the city is down. Robberies are one of those issues where having more officers present on their beats and out in the community truly matters, said the chief. Increased deployment matters to drive down robberies, particularly in high trafficked corridors; he wants to see police officers out there as a deterrent.
Aggravated Assaults: According to the chief, there was a slight uptick, but there was a moderate long term decline. He said the SFPD knows there could be underreporting of this crime category, so they need people to continue to report these crimes so that they can understand the data and make the adjustments necessary to address community needs. What’s proven through recent research is higher rates of deployment of officers on the beat and out in the community matters.
Property Crimes: Chief Scott said the city has been struck with an increase in burglaries (which started pre-COVID), including garage-style burglaries with smaller tools being used. Over the past few months he said the SFPD has seen these crimes actually decrease, although overall there is a long term trend increase. Again, police staffing levels matter on this issue, he said, and the SFPD is making the necessary adjustments to put more officers on the beat, particularly during the overnight hours in the community when most of these burglaries occur.
Larceny & Retail Theft: Contrary to the prevailing public narrative, the chief said current stats show a steady decrease in this category of crime. He added that a lot of stakeholder collaboration needs to continue, and the SFPD is pushing its anti-theft strategies forward, including making sure that they hand the District
Attorney’s Office good cases. When the department can lessen the frequency of these crimes, the chief said it will then lessen the content available for viral social media that drives public misperceptions.
Car Break-Ins: According to Chief Scott, while there was an overall decrease in car break-ins from 2017-2020, they are up dramatically in the first half of this year. Having more officers on the beat and in a consistent deployment will make a difference in curbing car break-ins, the chief said, especially where problems are concentrated on the most highly visited corridors. This is about the image our city projects to the rest of the world and we need to show visitors that San Francisco is safe.
Auto Thefts: Chief Scott said that this is another area where the department has seen some increases in incidents recently. These crimes are difficult to investigate, he said, and many cars are recovered in other jurisdictions. However, the department will continue making adjustments, including, again, the overnight
deployments of officers in the community as a deterrent.
“Ultimately, if you look at these midyear statistics, over time it paints a much different picture than what goes viral in social media and has been driving the recent public perception. We want the public to know the reality of our public safety environment in San Francisco right now and that ultimately, we are gaining traction, showing notable positive trends in some areas and improving public safety outcomes for everyone,” said Chief Scott.
“Regarding staffing levels, SFPD is about 400 officers short right now, though through the support of the mayor we have ensured that we are not getting smaller as a department based on our most recent budget,” he added, noting that the department is working to improve its recruitment efforts. Another area the chief highlighted was working better together with partners such as the District Attorney’s Office. He said he wants “to see accountability for people who commit crimes and bring these people to justice, while we also collaborate to do the important work of reforming our criminal justice system.”
“We hope everyone continues to stay safe, partner with our department, support one another, report crimes and together we will build on our innovative
community-led strategies, tackle critical challenges, and shape a more vibrant San Francisco for everyone,” said the chief in closing out his presentation.
Want to see the mayor and chief’s press conference yourself? Click here to view the recording on Facebook.