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Study credits foot patrols for drop in assaults, thefts

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(Examiner file photo)

A new study published today by the California Policy Lab attributed a decline in street crimes in San Francisco to an increase in police foot patrols.

The study concluded that the visible presence of officers assigned to walk city neighborhoods contributed to a 19 percent decline in assaults and a 17 percent decline in thefts citywide.

The decreased crimes correlate with a recent strategy that the San Francisco Police Department began on Sept. 1, 2017, re-assigning 69 officers to foot patrol assignments throughout the city’s police 10 police districts.

For the study, the policy lab and researchers from University of California at Berkeley used daily crime data for the 120-day period surrounding the policy change on Sept. 1, 2017. They found that in the weeks after the foot patrols began, larceny thefts declined by about 22 incidents per day and assaults declined by about eight incidents per day.

“The study suggest that a greater visible police presence helped reduce certain crimes in San Francisco in the two months following redeployment,” the policy lab’s executive director Evan White said in a statement. “These improvements in public safety are distinct from trends in prior years, and suggest the police’s redeployment made a difference.”

The most visible decreases in theft were in the Ingleside, Mission, Northern and Richmond police districts, while the biggest decreases in assault were in the Bayview, Central and Mission police districts, according to the study.

“Our foot patrol strategy is based upon deterrence and engagement with the community and would-be criminals,” police Chief William Scott said. “The date from this study supports our approach and shows that the greater number of visible, uniformed officers we are able to bring to our public spaces, the greater the benefit to public safety.”

“Having officers walking the streets helps prevent crime and allows the police to form relationships with the people they serve,” Mayor London Breed said. “The data backs up the results we have seen on the ground, which is why I included funding in the budget so we can train more officers and why we continue to increase foot patrols.”

Last month, police expanded foot patrols in the Mid-Market area, deploying 43 officers, concentrating mostly on Market Street between Fourth and Eighth streets.

According to police, the increased foot patrols initially began as a way to address a rise in thefts, including vehicle break-ins.

-Daniel Montes, Bay City News

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