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SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - San Francisco city leaders, including Police Chief Bill Scott, District Attorney Brooke Jenkins, and Sheriff Paul Miyamoto attended a town hall focused on crime in the city's Tenderloin on Thursday. The meeting follows a similar meeting last summer, during which many residents in attendance said they didn't feel that the city was doing enough to address crime in their area.
"We see a slight decrease in the visibility of crime, but the crime still exists," said Saint Anthony Foundation interim CEO Bryan Young, whose non-profit provides social services in the community. "It’s present every day, and it could be a shooting, or it could be a stabbing." Young called on city agencies to collaborate more in order to address crime that he said was, "so close to the children, so close to our guests and our employees."
Last week, a mass shooting took place in the Tenderloin. Five people were injured amid the gunfire, one of whom died.
"The narcotics activity at night, we believe it played a part in that, and that’s where our focus is right now," said Chief Scott.
Scott said that his department has been cracking down on illegal drug activity, but acknowledged that dealers have shifted their tactics, including when and where they deal.
"Once we witness police approaching a group [of potential dealers], the group goes down the street," said Young. "And often times, after a day or two they’re back in their regular position."
"If we’re not posted on that block, they come right back," Scott acknowledged.
But Scott said increased patrols by uniformed and plain clothes officers, and access to new technologies were starting to pay dividends in terms of lowering crime.
"It feels safer crime wise, dangerous wise in the day, but it gets really weird at night," said Luis Villavelazquez, who is planning to open a dessert focused restaurant in the Tenderloin. "Eventually I will have employees, customers and I want to make sure those people feel safe, and I’m still kind of in limbo in that regard."
Meantime, DA Jenkins vowed to continue to place pressure on judges who she believes should be holding dealers behind bars longer.
"We have only seen a small amount of progress in that area," said Jenkins. "We’re still continuing to see repeat drug dealers released."