Meeting notes from May 16, 2016 RHN Sponsored Safety Forum
The meeting began shortly after 5:30 pm and adjourned at 7:10 pm. Guests and panelists included:
- Paul Henderson (Deputy Chief of Staff and Public Safety Director, Mayor’s Office)
- Supervisor Mark Farrell and his aide Margaux Kelly
- Connie Chan, Supervisor Aaron Peskin’s Office
- Captain David Lazar, Central Station Captain
- Captain John Jaimerena, Northern Station Captain
- Commander Ann Mannix, Municipal Transportation (Vision Zero)
- Irina Chatsova, SAFE Program Director
- Plainclothes and uniformed officers from both Central and Northern Stations
Following brief introductory remarks, the floor was opened to questions from the audience, including:
Why is there no signage on Larkin Street, near Lombard, warning parkers not to leave anything in their cars? Both Lazar and Chan indicated they would check why there is no signage on Larkin. Lazar reported that there is signage on other streets around the crooked part of Lombard, and on Fisherman’s Wharf. In addition, there is a campaign to have rental car agencies, hotel concierges and other locations with extensive tourist interaction to distribute rear-view mirror hanging warnings about car break-ins and that nothing should be left in cars. Also, the Ambassador program at Lombard Street will begin again for the summer months; one goal is for the Ambassadors to speak with every parker to warn them not to leave anything in the car.
Statistics: Last year, the plainclothes team of Central Station made 130 arrests of individuals found to be breaking into cars. So far this year, there have been 30 arrests. Most of these are repeat offenders; many are known to the police already. They may have a history of gang involvement, drug dealing and/or violence, but they are now “in the business of” breaking into cars. Many rent a car to “go to work,” dress nicely and try to fit in. Once they have something of value, they immediately go to known fence locations to sell the valuables. Few of them carry weapons. Although some may fit the profile, most are not mentally ill or drug addicted. They have learned how to avoid being charged with crimes that will give them jail time. Because of public safety, police cannot give chase to these criminals for the crime of car break-in.
Why are these criminals not being charged and serving time? There followed a discussion of this complex issue. One attendee asked about the impact of Prop. 47 that passed statewide in November 2014.
Under Prop 47, criminal offenders who commit certain nonserious and nonviolent drug and property crimes are subject to reduced penalties. Savings to be used to support school truancy and dropout prevention, mental health and drug abuse treatment, etc. One attendee reported that she has been trying unsuccessfully to collect data on the impact of Prop 47. Paul Henderson and Captain Lazar both addressed the need for accountability once arrests have been made. Captain Lazar asked whether RHN would be willing to participate in a “court watch” program to ensure that cases are not dismissed. Tina Moylan, Chair of RHN’s Safety Committee, will work with Lazar on this effort.
Vision Zero efforts to eliminate all pedestrian deaths in the City. Commander Mannix reported that the top intersections where pedestrian traffic accidents occur in the City have been identified and a number of changes have been or are being made including traffic light delay for pedestrians, colored street markings, increased citations for drivers not observing the pedestrian crosswalks, failure to yield, etc. Each police station in SF (including Central and Northern) are similarly identifying the most dangerous intersections and increasing citations for violators. It was noted that bicyclists frequently ignore traffic rules – efforts are being made to address this as well.
Personal and home safety. Do not hold or use your iPhone or other mobile device in public. Do not leave anything in your car. Be sure that you have a good home alarm system and use it. Increasingly, videos are helping the police to make arrests. Consider installing some kind of security camera system. Make an appointment for SAFE to come to your home and do a safety audit.