In a departure from the San Francisco Police Department’s usual practice of reviewing crime trends district by district at the bi-monthly Compstat meetings, this morning’s session focused exclusively on combating robberies across the city. There have been 1097 robberies in 2011 to date, down 8 percent from the 1188 reported robberies at this time last year. However, the past two months have seen a 10 percent increase in robberies from last year.
District captains took turns discussing their various crime-fighting strategies. In the Southern District, which includes SoMa and the Mid-Market neighborhood, police have reacted to a series of street robberies along Sixth and Market Streets by conducting an arrest sweep yesterday afternoon, resulting in 11 arrests.
Yesterday’s raid, according to Southern District Captain Charlie Orkes, is a “short term fix” to a recent spate of robberies along Sixth Street and the Mid-Market corridor. He plans to do further robbery operations with parole and probation participating, and will involve officers from the Tenderloin District in buy-bust operations to apprehend drug dealers who may move their sales to other locations.
Captain Orkes and other officers said they would need more officers to see a serious decrease in robberies. Assistant Chief Jeff Godown reminded his command staff that San Francisco’s budget crisis means SFPD will “have to do a more with a lot less for some time.” Like the Oakland Police Department, SFPD is losing officers through attrition. On average, SFPD loses 6-8 police officers per month: In April, 11 officers left the department.
Richmond District Captain Richard Corriea has taken to Twitter to provide residents with information about crime trends in his neighborhood. He spoke favorably of the social networking tool’s simplicity and broad audience. The idea, Corriea said, came from his wife’s sister: “She told me, Twitter changes governments in the Middle East – what are you boys doing down at the station?”
Corriea’s remarks touched off a brief discussion of what Twitter actually does, and how it differs from email and instant messaging. “Explain this to me because I’m an old person,” Assistant Chief Godown implored Corriea.
Other points of discussion included ways to get people using their smartphones in public to be aware of their surroundings (most robberies in San Francisco involve some sort of electronic device), how best to reach out to citizens (billboards? Public service announcements? New media?) and how to get more officers to walk their beats instead of patrolling in their squad car.