NOPNA’s Cops & Community Pow Wow
Last night before the earthquake rattled windows and nerves, a crowd of already rattled neighbors crowded into the Cafe Neon in District 5 to hear updates from the police department and city policy pushers on the recent spate of shootings & unsolved murders in the North of Panhandle area. The overflow turnout was considerably larger than one anticipates at these usual community shuck & jives where one hears how your taxdollars are being systematically siphoned and spent on who knows what.
Amongst the presenters gathered by organizer & concerned mother of two Leela Gill were reps from SF’s Drug Court, the Mayor’s Deputy Chief of staff for Public Safety, reps from the DA’s office and the headliners of the event… D5 Supe Ross Mirkirimi, as well as the affable Captain Ehrlich of Park Station and Lt. John Murphy of the Gang Task Force.
While no solutions were likely to come from the meeting, there was some info shared, the usual venting, some back slapping, connections being made and the sense that there are many people concerned about doing some positive things in a city that can’t afford any more negatives.
Some random opinions on the meeting, and also after the jump : some potentially useful numbers you might want for reporting crimes, or contacting city agencies about issues.
The police presented crime stats showing that overall crime was down, and that San Francisco was the only major city to have a decrease in homicide last year. Jeff Ross of the DA office touted that of the actual homicide cases where people are willing to testify, they have a very high conviction rate.
One of the main concerns for residents was hearing how the new civil injunctions & “stay away” orders copied after LA’s ordinance might play out in San Francisco. Capt Erhlich assured one questioner concerned about civil liberties that no one “innocent” will be targeted via the anti gang injunctions. Well, that sounded good, problem solved there…
Erhlich suggested at one point that recidivism & crime in San Francisco is basically due to people not voting for the right judges. He assured us that San Francisco is definitely not contributing to the state’s prison overcrowding, our criminals are walking amongst us, with nary a fear of potential incarceration. Carrying a loaded concealed firearm is a misdemeanor that is actually less serious legally than having a three inch knife.
When someone asked Capt Erhlich why he couldn’t clear the disruptive elements gathered at certain intersections, or have officers that concentrate on these zones, he basically said he didn’t want to be perceived as racial profiling, and he didn’t have the authority or right to just interrupt gatherings at will.
That seemed a pat answer, if an ultimately feeble excuse, since anyone knows when the police want to do something, such as for example clear a street after a North Beach or Haight Street Fair, it’s just simply done…often brutally, but efficiently in the end. Anyone not listening to orders to disperse in those cases certainly knows what a nightstick tastes like.
The cops, DA and Mayor’s reps generally patted themselves on the back, cited their successes, and if needed, either nodded, or outright ignored the evidence presented that suggested anything otherwise. The Police seem to always resist the suggestion that they are often of touch with the city’s neighborhoods. One African American elder decried that the Police at a recent shooting site refused to gather info from witnesses & instead simply told anyone approaching them with info to “Get Back”.
People seemed outraged at the growing safety issues , unsolved crimes and scourge of broad daylight shootings. It’s apparent that most are being committed by a handful of thugs or “gang members” who loiter in known areas, yet the police seem baffled or incapable of increasing patrols or even taking statements or info from the few eye witnesses who’ve willingly come forward. While it’s true that a “no-snitches” mentality hinders prosecutions, the factors that have contributed to a shocking rise in juvenile crimes in are known to all.
While Mirkirimi has long labored & attempted to legislate some community policing in this town, Capt. Ehrlich stated he already had a handful of foot patrols. I guess why try more?
Supe Ross Mirkarimi who despite his good intentions & responsive relations with community members, occasionally tends to drift into that bellowing righteous soap box orating style that screams he’s not really listening or addressing anyone topic or subject in particular, but is practicing an inaugural address.
Mirkirimi did suggest that he’s looking into creative options to control the systemic decline in our cities federally controlled but long neglected public housing. He also mentioned looking into code enforcements that will punish property owners that are contributing to the crime problems in the area by attracting loiterers and other nuisances. The parking lot at Grove & Divisidero that’s owned by a local body shop, but used as a gathering spot was mentioned in particular by neighbors who wished the police would patrol it better. The cops seemed to think they already patrolled it enough.
In the meantime, while listening to the same old spiels, neighbors passed around a clipboard to create neighborhood watches, and exchanged contact info.
Here’s some numbers & email addresses that you may want for your own reasons…
Police Non Emergency Dispatch (suspicious activity, complaints etc) – 415 553 0123
SFNeighborhood Emergency Response Teams 415 558-3456
Office of Citizen’s Complaints (Police Misconduct) 415 597-7711
new City everything number – 311
City website http://www.sfgov.org
Police Chief : Heather Fong – firstname.lastname@example.org
District Attorney : Kamala Harris email@example.com
If you live North of The Panhandle, check into NOPNA at NOPNA.org