San Francisco supervisors will no longer pursue a mandate for police to create neighborhood units targeting the epidemic of car break-ins, but it remains unclear whether The City’s top cop will create those units on his own.
Supervisors Norman Yee and Hillary Ronen pulled back on legislation Wednesday morning that would have required police to assign at least one officer to a property crime unit at every station.
After conversations with police Chief Bill Scott on Tuesday, the supervisors decided to withdraw the proposal and were satisfied with what they said was his commitment to implement their vision for neighborhood property crime units.
But the chief stopped short of saying that he would create these special units during a joint news conference with the supervisors later Wednesday.
Instead, Scott reiterated his recent announcement that the department has doubled foot patrols in every police station to prevent property crime and committed to curtailing the rise in car break-ins.
“I agree to designate staffing to combat car break-ins, bike theft and property crimes at each district station,” Scott later said in a statement following the news conference. “We’ve also doubled foot patrols citywide and have launched a public education campaign to help prevent car break-ins.”
Yee and Ronen said that they decided not to mandate the units in the spirit of collaboration. Scott said at the news conference that “I don’t think that the deployment of police resources is something that should be legislated.”
Both supervisors said they would support additional resources as needed for the department to fight property crimes.
“I will immediately introduce a budget supplemental for any additional resources that we need,” Ronen told reporters.
At the news conference, Supervisor Jeff Sheehy said that the Board of Supervisors should direct more resources to the police.
“What’s missing are additional resources,” Sheehy said. “We need foot patrols in every neighborhood… The fact of the matter is foot patrols are prevention, and prevention means less crime.”
The understanding between the supervisors and the police chief is expected to be codified in a non-binding resolution, which will be discussed next Wednesday at the Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee.
The chief is expected to meet with the supervisors next week.
The news comes after the San Francisco Examiner in August first reported the increase in car break-ins.
On Wednesday, Scott said that San Francisco has had a 25 percent uptick in car break-ins so far this year compared to last year. Police have recorded 19,975 auto burglaries so far this year, about 4,000 more than at this point in 2016.
This is the second time that Yee called for the neighborhood units. Last October, the Board of Supervisors approved similar legislation but Mayor Ed Lee vetoed the ordinance a day later.
“It’s so easy for officers to say, ‘You’re assigned to this murder. There’s a bar fight with 50 people. Forget car break-ins,’” Yee told the Examiner. “Can we leave somebody or somebodies that always will be focused on this in their neighborhood and they don’t get pulled out for extra duties somewhere else?”
Ellen Canale, a spokesperson for the mayor, said that Lee has yet to review the resolution from Yee and Ronen.
“He will review it when it comes to his desk,” Canale said in an email. “However, the mayor has full confidence in Chief Scott’s decisions and strategies to best deploy the resources of his department.”
Ronen said that creating neighborhood units would complement the new strategy that Scott launched to fight property crimes by doubling foot beats around San Francisco.
“This is the change that we need to make a dent in this problem,” Ronen told the Examiner.
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