Muni crimes raising an alarm

Recent violent crimes on Muni and the failure of cameras to record them have various city leaders calling for change, but concrete plans have yet to be disclosed.

The most recent high-profile crime on a Muni vehicle happened Saturday at about 9:45 p.m. when an adult passenger on a 14-Mission was stabbed after a fight with two men and one woman on the bus.

A Muni official told The Examiner that the recorder for the up to six security cameras on the bus was not working at the time of the incident last weekend, leaving no footage available for a police investigation.

As Mayor Gavin Newsom has pledged a crackdown on crime on the transit system, the lack of security cameras is one obstacle that needs to be overcome.

Failure of cameras to work on Muni vehicles has occurred during several high-profile incidents in the last few months, including the stabbing of an 11-year-old boy on a 49-Van Ness/Mission and a light-rail crash at West Portal station.

The mayor told The Examiner that the failure to decrease crime on Muni — as the Police Department has done citywide — means he and new police Chief George Gascón will announce new safety measures.

“What’s not good is crime on Muni buses,” Newsom said. “Crime’s down [in The City] overall, but we’re starting to see an uptick in crime [on Muni], and that’s something we’re going to be fighting hard on.”

Police have reported a 13 percent drop citywide in the first half of 2009 of the most serious crimes, such as rape, robbery and assault — homicides have decreased by about 50 percent in the same time period.

But, crime on Muni has not decreased accordingly. There were 943 crimes reported on Muni vehicles for fiscal year 2008-09 compared with 947 for the previous year. The year before that, there were 1,123 crimes reported, according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which oversees Muni.

A sting operation last week by Ingleside Station undercover officers didn’t net any violent offenders — like the man who stabbed 11-year-old Hatim Mansori on the 49-Van Ness/Mission earlier this month. But 20 people were ticketed for minor infractions, such as boarding at the back of the bus, eating on the bus and fare evasion.

As for the issue with the Muni cameras, Muni spokesman Judson True said a maintenance crew is focusing on the scope of the problem and is working to fix a number of cameras and recorders that may be damaged.

The MTA did not provide the number of cameras that are inoperable.

“We’re working to get all of the video systems in our vehicles as soon as possible,” True said.

bbegin@sfexaminer.com

 

Supervisor asks for proof transit police making rounds

Police patrolling Muni vehicles has been a hot issue, and Supervisor Bevan Dufty says he wants to make sure the officers are dutifully fulfilling their obligations.

Dufty has called the protection of the transit service into question before, even at one point challenging riders to call him if they saw police on Muni vehicles.

Now, the supervisor and mayoral candidate wants a hearing about proof the officers are making their prescribed rounds.

Officers use a Translink pass when boarding Muni. Dufty plans on calling for a hearing to look at that information.

“While we’re pleased to see crime is down city-wide — homicides are down 50 percent — it’s discouraging to see that crime is still occurring on Muni,” said Dufty’s aide, Boe Hayward.

— Brent Begin

 

Unsafe routes

Crime citywide has decreased during the last year, but the trend toward safer streets does not extend to Muni, which has seen a number of high-profile violent incidents recently.

Total crimes reported by SFPD on Muni

2008-09 943
2007-08 947
2006-07 1,123

Source: Municipal Transportation Agency

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