Police, SF supes reach agreement on district staffing to combat property crimes

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN)-- San Francisco Supervisors Hillary Ronen and Norman Yee today announced an agreement with Police Chief William Scott to dedicate personnel at every district station to investigating and preventing property crimes such as auto burglaries.

In return, the supervisors agreed to drop legislation that would mandate such staffing for police. Instead, they will convert the ordinance to a nonbinding resolution.

Ronen and Yee today said the move came after a meeting with Scott showed that they were largely in agreement on the need to increase resources at the district level to handle the city's rising number of property crimes.

"We decided, let's make this a collaboration, let's make this work for all of us, because one of the things that we don't want to end up doing is having legislation where it ends up being a political battle," Yee said.

Scott, who took over leadership of the department, has already moved to redeploy members of a centralized task force dedicated to property crime back out to district stations.

He also doubled the number of foot patrol officers citywide around a month ago, with an emphasis on higher crime areas, in an effort to prevent burglaries and theft through increased police visibility and deterrence.

Car break-ins, bike thefts and burglaries have become a hot button issue in a city so plagued by them that Ronen has referred to the cost of regularly replacing broken car windows as a "tax" on city residents.

While the rate of property crime appeared to dip somewhat last year, the city has seen a 25 percent increase in car break-ins this year compared to the same period last year, from 15,934 year to 19,975.

Yee introduced similar legislation last year calling for district level personnel dedicated to property crimes, and it was approved by the Board of Supervisors but vetoed by Mayor Ed Lee.

Scott acknowledged today that he would prefer to not have his hands tied by legislation and said he had asked the supervisors to trust in his leadership and come up with a plan.

"In spirit, we're all wanting to do the same thing," Scott said. "The bottom line is we're going to get judged by our results."

Today's announcement also came with a commitment by the supervisors to making sure the department has the resources it needs. Under a current accelerated hiring program the department is on pace to have 270
additional officers by the end of the year, and Yee said a task force he has launched will provide a clear answer on exactly how many officers are needed citywide.

Ronen said she and other supervisors were "100 percent committed" to getting the department the resources it needs.

"We want to make sure that resources are not what is hindering this police department from making a dent in crime," Ronen said.

Scott said the department has also launched a public awareness campaign warning about vehicle thefts and urging residents and tourists to avoid leaving items in the car.

In addition, the department is creating a crime strategies unit to work on identifying serial crimes and working to improve its crime analysis capability.

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