SF’s finest jump aboard Muni plan amid public outcry

Muni riders will see more police officers on the transit system following several high-profile assault incidents, including an attack on a child.

The uptick in assaults, thefts and graffiti on buses and light-rail trains — including the stabbing of an 11-year-old boy on a bus and a fight between two women — led the Police Department’s top brass to put more officers on vehicles — uniformed and undercover.

A new program will track crime trends on Muni and hold police captains accountable for transit crimes that occur in their districts, Deputy Chief John Murphy told supervisors at a hearing Monday. He recently was named to lead the crackdown.

In the past, district captains did not track Muni activity. Certain crimes reported on the transit system are passed on to bureaus such as robbery or narcotics, but little was being done to address trends that plague certain Muni routes, Murphy told the supervisors and residents at the hearing on the subject of Muni crime.

Muni crimes will be tracked using CompStat, a new mapping technology that helps police record reports on where crimes happen, how often they happen and where they may happen again, Murphy said.

Transit agency officials also are revising the procedure for how drivers report and handle crimes they witness, Muni safety chief James Doherty said Monday.

The crackdown comes after the Police Department was scrutinized earlier this year for being nonexistent on Muni vehicles despite the millions of dollars the Municipal Transportation Agency pays annually for enforcement.

The issue was amplified by several high-profile incidents, including two stabbings and a fight between two women that gained national attention after a passenger filmed the incident and posted the video online.

At the hearing, riders expressed outrage about safety issues, especially following a fare increase in July, an upcoming reduction in service and another fare hike in January.

One story from the meeting called by Supervisor Bevan Dufty was that of Sunset district resident Tom King, who said he and his 11-year-old son, Tommy, watched a fight between two passengers on the 29-Sunset bus escalate to the point that pepper spray became involved.

The driver did not get involved, and no police officers were called to address the incident, King said.

Some passengers — which number 700,000 on an average day — blame operators for doing nothing to stop crimes. Dufty said after the hearing that the recent violence on Muni is mainly due to a lack of police presence on vehicles.

“I think [policing on Muni] has been abysmal, a huge disappointment,” he said.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

 

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