(Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

(Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

Data shows crime in SF in decline

Last year marked a peak in property and violent crimes in San Francisco in recent years, but so far this year, crime is on a downward trend, according to police statistics from May.

That drop has been seen in property and violent crimes, as police say they have focused their efforts on pinpointing high crime areas and suspects they think are responsible.

Meanwhile, several efforts to address the long trend of rising crime are underway even as this year has seen a drop.

Robberies, burglaries, assaults and larceny all declined over the first part of the year even with a slight uptick from April to May, according to the San Francisco Police Department’s Compstat report for May.

All robberies declined by 23 percent year over year as of the end of May. Through May 2015, there had been 1,591 robberies; this year, that number has dropped to 1,232.

Assaults, however, declined by just 4 percent year over year, with 1,136 by the end of May 2015, and 1,090 in 2016.

Theft from cars — an issue at the center of recent public concern — has declined by 25 percent compared to this time last year.

Homicides, already at a low rate over the past six years, remained steady at 21 both by May 2015 and May of this year.

Interim Chief Toney Chaplin told the San Francisco Examiner the department has been using Compstat crime data to pinpoint where most crimes are occurring. SFPD then sends some of the plainclothes units to those areas to catch criminals in the act.

The recent arrest of three suspects near Lombard Street moments after they committed a robbery is a prime example of this effort, Chaplin said.

While the department admits it’s hard to point to one cause for the rise or falling crime, a series of proactive approaches to enforcement may have played a part.

“Our Patrol Bureau Task Force and our District Stations Officers have been working hard to deter these crimes and to investigate and make arrests when they do occur,” department spokesperson Officer Carlos Mandfredi said.

The department has also been disseminating images of suspects from surveillance and sharing information between investigators across town to see if any links can be made.

Arrest rates

During this period, while there has been a hiring freeze and a retirement spike followed by a big push in recent years to fill the ranks, arrests have declined.

For instance, in 2011, there were 6,839 arrests and a total of 38,260 crimes reported.

In 2015, there were just 5,725 arrests, even as crime peaked with a total of 64,870 crimes reported.

Reactions

Meanwhile, solutions to The City’s crime are coming down the pipeline.

November’s ballot in San Francisco will include a choice to fund neighborhood crime units dedicated to responding to crimes like auto break-ins and home burglaries.

The Safe Neighborhoods Ordinance was submitted by Supervisor Scott Wiener with the support of Mayor Ed Lee and some of his board colleagues.

The ordinance would dedicate 3 percent of SFPD staff to such units. This effort comes as the department works to reach the charter mandate of 1,971 officers, which is expected by the end of next year.

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