With The City’s record-setting homicides consistently concentrated in certain neighborhoods, redefining the boundaries of police stations is being considered in order to give some sections of The City more support.
Under the legislation, which is being proposed Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi who represents a district hard hit by crime, the area that each police station patrols and serves would be reviewed at least every 10 years, with the border adjusted along with shifts in population and crime. The responsibility for conducting the review and any adoption of new boundaries would fall on The City’s chief of police.
Mirkarimi, whose district encompasses Haight-Ashbury, the Panhandle and the Western Addition areas, said he sees redistricting of police districts as one of several possible strategies to reduce crime and make residents feel safer in their neighborhoods.
One station boundary that Mirkarimi would like to see adjusted runs through his district, along Steiner Street, near a public housing development impacted by crime. The area east of Steiner is under the jurisdiction of the Northern Station; the west side is watched over by Park Station police officers.
"You have officers from Park Station walking west to east, stopping at Steiner and turning around. That doesn’t provide continuity on the other side," said Mirkarimi, who said local residents have complained that the police are slow to respond to calls for assistance and believe that both stations are deferring responsibility to the other.
Park Station Lt. Ann Mannix agreed that the area would be better served if the border currently at Steiner was moved west to Divisadero Street, but disagrees with the assumption that those who live between two stations are not given adequate protection.
"The other side of the coin is that the four blocks of housing development gets double coverage since two stations are covering," Mannix said.
Although not covered by his proposed ordinance, Mirkarimi said staffing levels at each station should also be routinely reviewed and adjusted. He said the smaller-sized Park Station is ill-equipped to deal with the high-crime levels of the surrounding neighborhood.
San Francisco police Chief Heather Fong said the Police Department has already redrawn the boundaries in recent years, including two times since the early 1990s — and was already preparing to do it again.
"I’ve discussed this with the Supervisor," Fong said. "I foresaw doing this within the next year and a half; by then the new record management system would be up."
Fong said the SFPD’s new computerized data collection system would assist in providing the most accurate crime trend data, since new district boundaries would need to consider the current changes in such areas as South of Market, Mission Bay and Treasure Island.
"People ask ‘can’t we just move one boundary,’" Fong said. "If you move one street here, then do you decide to move the other end of the district one block? There’s this domino effect."
The proposed legislation was introduced to the Board of Supervisors in early June and has received the approval of the Board of Supervisors City Operations and Neighborhood Services Committee. No date has been scheduled yet for the proposal to come before the full board for approval.