As crime climbs in The City, police plan to release a cell phone app for civilians to report crime. (Mike Koozmin/S.F. Examiner)

SF police refuse to release damning crime stats

As one of the largest departments in the state, San Francisco’s police officers are often viewed as leaders in law enforcement. But citizens here have been given little more than anecdotes and sporadic news reports when it comes to crime in The City during the past five months.
Not since summer has the San Francisco Police Department released crime statistics, which top brass tout as part of their modern-day, data-driven policing efforts. In the meantime, reported crimes in The City have continued to increase, according to the latest police crime stats obtained by the San Francisco Examiner.

The most recent report contains far less information than what had been the norm since data-based policing began with the introduction of Compstat in 2009, under then-Chief George Gascon.

For instance, one of police Chief Greg Suhr’s main talking points, thefts from vehicles, is nowhere to be found on the latest crime stats from October.

The data can be used by anyone in The City who wants to grasp the level and type of crimes occurring, as well as the number of arrests for certain crimes. The old monthly report was a more detailed breakdown of The City’s crime, even including the number of shooting incidents.
While Suhr said it was imperfect, it was the main tool at hand for understanding what was going on in the streets.
The newest data also does not appear on the department’s website, and monthly crime statistics from the past have been removed. Thus, comparing old reports with new ones has become impossible without saved copies.

After requesting the data repeatedly and receiving nothing — the department has said its data team was not ready to release the information — the Examiner obtained a copy of the statistics late this month. The numbers did not come from the department.

Suhr said he was unaware the stats were withheld from anyone in past months and said the new numbers should be online and available to the public.
Suhr also said the department has never had a proper Compstat, and instead has compiled crime stats from numerous data sets, which caused anomalies. The department didn’t post those numbers online because they didn’t want to release false information.

BY THE NUMBERS
The most recent crime stats show an increase in most incidents citywide from January through October of this year compared with that same time in 2014. Overall, reported crime is up by 11 percent.

  • Homicides have increased from 34 to 40, forcible rapes from 315 to 333, robberies from 2,778 to 3,067, assaults from 6,030 to 6,283, larceny theft from 30,298 to 35,170, motor vehicle thefts from 5,346 to 5,773.
  • That’s an 18 percent increase in homicide, six percent increase in forcible rape, 10 percent increase in robbery, four percent increase in assault, 16 percent increase in larceny theft and eight percent increase in vehicle theft over last year.
  • Arson reports also grew by 22 percent from 193 to 235 and human trafficking reports by 22 percent from 51 to 62.
    In total, reported crime in The City jumped from 49,633 to 55, 287 incidents.
  • The only classification of crime that fell, according to the latest numbers, is burglary — down by six percent.
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