San Francisco ended 2018 with declines in all sorts of crime, according to new numbers that police released Thursday, but Mayor London Breed and Police Chief Bill Scott say there is still work to be done.
The City saw the biggest reductions in homicides and car break-ins, which fell 18 percent and 17 percent respectively compared with 2017. Despite the gains, officials say even one of the 46 reported killings was too many, and the number of reported auto burglaries remained at a jaw-dropping 25,974.
“These are good numbers but we have a lot of work to do,” Scott said at a news conference with the mayor. “We want to do our best to stay in front of this and prevent these crimes from occurring rather than react to them.”
The drop in homicides is part of an overall decline in violent crime across the nation and in The City, where reports of rape, robbery and aggravated assault also declined slightly last year. San Francisco also experienced a 35 percent drop in shootings in 2018 and a quarter increase in gun seizures.
The downward trend in homicides is so significant that The City almost ended the year with the lowest number since the 1960s until a series of three killings struck around Christmas. Even then, The City still had 10 fewer killings than in 2017 and the lowest homicide count in four years.
“Every homicide is tragic but we have to recognize the progress that we’ve made,” Breed said at the news conference.
Human trafficking is the only violent crime that increased in 2018. Police recorded a 170 percent jump in such reports from 40 cases to 108.
Reports of human trafficking have increased since the federal government closed sex-for-sale websites like Backpage.com last April. The closures forced sex workers who previously advertised on the internet into street prostitution in areas like the Mission.
Police say some of those sex workers have turned to pimps for protection and become the victims of human trafficking.
Burglary was the only property crime to increase last year, with a 10 percent jump to 5,605 in 2018 from 5,114 the year prior. Scott said the department will focus on fighting burglaries in the coming year.
As for car break-ins and other property crimes, Scott and the mayor attributed the reductions in part to the increased visibility of police.
The San Francisco Police Department has boosted the number of officers patrolling the streets by the dozens since late 2017.
As part of the increased visibility, police have parked a mobile-command unit at United Nations Plaza to deter quality-of-life crimes and drug dealing as part of larger enforcement efforts in the Tenderloin and South of Market.
The chief did not provide data on drug arrests.
“The increase in property crime that San Francisco experienced in 2017 has been turned around,” District Attorney George Gascon said in a statement.
“This is due in large part to adjustments made by law enforcement in the past two years, the leadership of the SFPD, and renewed collaboration that is netting major crime drivers,” Gascon said.
View the complete December 2018 Compstat report here.
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