The 25,000 or so residents of the Tenderloin who fall within the neighborhood's police district are patrolled by some 70 officers. That's about 350 people per officer in the triangle-shaped neighborhood that has one of the highest crime rates in San Francisco.
Now plans are afoot to reshape the size and scope of the police district to expand its boundaries south to Mission Street and include part of Market Street along with Sixth Street and adjacent areas. The proposal is part of a recently completed analysis mandated every 10 years, which included other proposals for about half of San Francisco's 10 police districts.
The proposed new map worries many neighborhood residents. At a packed Police Commission hearing in late January, residents said that taking on Market Street from Powell Street to Van Ness Avenue would tax an already-busy district, and if there is any expansion at all it should instead be west to Polk Street north of Market Street.
Many residents specifically worried that calls to the Westfield San Francisco Centre mall and another mall under construction between Fifth and Sixth streets on Market Street would draw needed police away from the center of the Tenderloin.
“We have a serious issue in the Tenderloin” with crime, said Curtis Bradford, president of the East Tenderloin Community Association.
Bradford told the Police Commission that the Tenderloin Police Station has too few resources as is and should not have to patrol malls at all.
“It's a disgrace,” he said of the level of crime and drug use in the neighborhood.
Residents of the western Tenderloin, such as Mary Cruz, said they want the station lines pushed to Polk Street since it is part of the Tenderloin but patrolled by the Northern Police Station.
Others, whose businesses and residences are near Geary Street or along Polk Street, said they get very slow responses from police in the Central Police Station, which is headquartered in North Beach, and the Northern Police Station, whose boundaries stretch from the Marina south to Market Street.
These worries aside, Police Chief Greg Suhr said no station would lose officers under the new plans.
Suhr also said any changes to district boundaries would not impact police officers on the ground, such as the 24 beat cops who patrol Market Street for the Southern Police Station. If the current proposal goes forward, those officers would be part of the Tenderloin Police Station.
The current draft of the new lines, which is subject to change, will mostly impact the five eastern police stations. For instance, Southern station, which currently runs from the Ferry Building down the waterfront to AT&T Park, and along Market Street to several blocks past Van Ness Avenue, would lose all of its Market Street jurisdiction and instead take on the new neighborhood of Mission Bay all the way south to 16th Street. The new Southern Police Station will be located in Mission Bay.
That would also mean the Bayview Police Station would lose Mission Bay and the Central station would patrol Market Street from Powell Street to the Ferry Building.
“The plan's not in cement,” noted Police Commissioner Petra De Jesus, whose point was echoed by Suhr and other commissioners.
Three more public hearings will be held in affected districts, and a final decision on the new station boundaries is expected in March.
Rates per 1,000 people in three stations with most changes:
-Population: About 26,000
-Size: 2.9 square miles
-Staffing: 152 officers
-Violent crimes per 1,000 people: 39.63
-Property crimes per 1,000 people: 428.23
-Population: Roughly 25,000
-Size: 0.3 square miles
-Staffing: About 70 officers
-Violent crimes per 1,000 people: 38.63
-Property crimes per 1,000 people: 104.73
-Size: 1.8 square miles
-Staffing: 128 officers
<p> -Violent crimes per 1,000 people: 8.61
-Property crimes per 1,000 people: 91.83
Source: Police Department