San Francisco officials on Friday said they are investigating why it took four hours for police to respond to a 911 call from a Chinese Outer Mission bakery after the owner was robbed and beaten.
Speaking at a news conference outside Good Orchard Bakery on Mission Street, Supervisor Norman Yee, Police Chief Bill Scott and Supervisor Ahsha Safai vowed to improve The City’s emergency response for non-English speaking callers.
Safai said city officials were investigating what caused the delayed response and why the urgency of the call was not correctly communicated to police.
The robbery at the Good Orchard Bakery occurred around noon last Saturday after the owner, who declined to speak at the news conference, returned from a trip to the bank to get cash, according to a report in World Journal. Two men, who may have followed him back from the bank, beat him up, breaking his fingers during the robbery.
But while he called 911 shortly before 12:30 p.m., police did not respond to the scene until around 4:30 p.m.
Safai said news of the incident, which occurred last Saturday, had “spread like wildfire” through the Chinese community.
“We understand that there is a general mistrust, and that mistrust is underscored when response time is way too long,” Safai said. “So we wanted to say that we will do everything we can to rebuild that trust.”
Scott said he had listened to a recording of the 911 call, and a translator did assist the caller. While there were no units immediately available, robberies are normally considered a top priority for response, he said.
Scott apologized for the delay and said his department and the Department of Emergency Management are working to determine what went wrong.
“There’s really no excuse,” he said.
Francis Zamora, a spokesman for the Department of Emergency Management, said a review is underway, but could not say when it would be completed.
Yee said the incident called attention to the need for culturally competent police officers in diverse neighborhoods and foot patrols. Scott said there are foot patrols in the area and the department has introduced measures, including financial incentives, to try to increase the number of language-certified officers.
The incident, which comes after the Jan. 8 brutal beating of an elderly woman, 88-year-old Yik Oi Huang, in Visitacion Valley, is contributing to an increased fear of crime in the Chinese community, officials said. Residents feel especially vulnerable this time of year because many of them are carrying cash for the Chinese New Year.
“The fear that I’m sensing in the community is really real, and we need to address that,” Yee said.