Most serious crime declined in San Francisco in 2016 with the notable exception of homicides, which continued a three-year rise, according to statistics released by the Police Department on Tuesday.
Gun violence, the cause of all but 18 of the year’s 58 homicides, also saw a steep jump.
The statistics are part of the department’s annual Uniform Criminal Reporting data dump, which it gives to the FBI along with most other law enforcement agencies across the country. The UCR is the standard tool for the nation’s law enforcement agencies to compare crime and look at national trends.
The department did not comment on why the most violent of crimes are on the rise, but credited their police work with the overall decline in crime.
“We continue to actively police our various neighborhoods and draw attention to high crime areas and the police continue to do diligent work,” said department spokesperson Officer Giselle Talkoff. “It’s always a positive thing when you see crime on the decline.”
Still, she added that there are a number of factors that play into crime rates, from the economy and gang violence to changes in law.
But finding the cause to rises and declines in crime rates is hard to do, according to James Dudley, a San Francisco State University criminal justice lecturer and former SFPD deputy chief.
“Everybody expected crime to rise in 2009 [during the recession],” but it didn’t, Dudley said, noting that crime has risen in economic downturns.
Last year had 58 reported homicides compared to 53 the year before. In 2014, there was a low of 45 homicides, and 2013 was near that number with 48.
While the department does not release neighborhood-specific crime statistics (each of the 10 station captains is tasked with publishing newsletters on local crime trends), most of the homicides in 2016 occurred in a handful of neighborhoods.
The vast majority of killings in 2016 occurred on The City’s east and south. The Tenderloin had the most with 11 homicides, followed by the Mission with seven. There were six in Bayview-Hunters Point and five in the South of Market.
Reported rapes, robberies, aggravated assault and sex-trafficking all dropped in 2016, as did all violent crime when combined. In 2015, there were 6,777 reported violent crimes, compared to 6,240 in 2016.
Still, gun violence rose overall by 45 percent from 2015 to 2016.
While most of that violence was not fatal, there were more people shot in 2016 than any year since 2009. For instance, in 2016, there were 189 gun violence victims, compared to 149 the previous year. In 2009, there were 204 people shot.
There were more gun violence cases — combining gun homicides and non-fatal shootings — last year than the year before as well. In 2015, there were a total of 183 cases of gun violence, compared to 228 in 2016. (One of the year’s homicides occurred on federal property in Aquatic Park, so it has not been included in SFPD’s data.)
Despite the rise in gun violence, the department took a significant step in its effort to seize guns. In 2016, it seized 1,216 firearms, compared to 1,085 the year before.
Still, firearm arrests were only slightly above 2015, which itself saw a huge decline. In 2014, the department made 493 such arrests.
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