Comparing SF and Alameda Calls into Question Traditional ‘Tough on Crime’ DA Policies


Senior Legal Analyst Kate Chatfield Questions the Effectiveness of Alameda DA’s Tough on Crime Approach 

By Mia Machado 

OAKLAND– As the Recall Chesa Boudin movement gains momentum, casting a negative light on the reform-minded approach of the SF District Attorney’s office, Kate Chatfield points to Oakland’s alarming 210% spike in yearly homicides, questioning the effectiveness of Alameda County DA’s so-called tough on crime approach.

On Monday, March 22, Senior Legal Analyst Kate Chatfield from  The Appeal turned to Twitter, highlighting the differences between San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, and Alameda County’s DA, Nancy O’Malley.

Despite being neighboring counties, the two DA offices embrace distinctly different ideologies for successfully tackling crime within their jurisdictions. 

DA O’Malley’s office, for example, emphasizes a commitment to upholding a “safe and livable community through the fair and effective administration of justice,” while prioritizing support for the victims of crimes.

DA Boudin’s office, on the other hand, “strives to protect public safety in San Francisco by using innovative, evidence-based approaches” and focuses on “prioritizing treatment, resources, and support for those whose crimes stem from underlying struggles.”  

After SF Chronicle reporter, Meghan Cassidy, pulled the alarm on Oakland’s distressingly high homicide rate—up over 200% compared to the previous year—Kate Chatfield questioned whether “decades of the tough on crime approach” was accomplishing O’Malley’s goal of ensuring a “safe and livable” community for the citizens of Oakland. 

Chatfield’s critical examination of O’Malley’s tough on crime approach diverges from the growing sentiments of the the Recall Chesa Boudin movement, demanding the recall of the reform-minded district attorney who only took office in November of 2019. 

 Organized by San Francisco resident Richie Greenberg and approved for petition signature gathering on March 3rd, the Recall Chesa Boudin Movement condemns the “disastrous social experiment of criminal justice ‘reform’ and the so-called restorative justice model” of the DA, and claims that he has “dismantled the criminal justice system.”

The movement, Greenberg explains, was inspired by the increasing number of local crimes, such as robberies and burglaries. However, since DA Boudin has maintained his progressive policies and intentions from the start of his term, according to police data, the overall crime rate, especially violent crime, has continued to decrease.

In Alameda County however, the crime statistics tell a different story. In the last three years, Oakland’s homicide rate has increased by 63%. Rates have continued to rise, exceeding the prior year’s level by over 200%. 

As these alarming rates push experts such as Kate Chatfield to question the validity of tough on crime approaches to keep the community safe, and look to crime media to demand the pursuance of alternative approaches, SF DA Boudin’s innovative policies provide a possible alternative for other offices to look to, having seen promising statistical results.

Mia Machado is a junior at UC Davis, currently majoring in Political Science-Public Service and minoring in Luso-Brazilian studies. She is originally from Berkeley, California. She is a team member on the Chesa Boudin Recall – Changing the Narrative Project.

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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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15 thoughts on “Comparing SF and Alameda Calls into Question Traditional ‘Tough on Crime’ DA Policies”

    1. Ron Oertel

      I was getting ready to make the exact same point.

      What an absurd comparison this article makes.  Criminals can’t afford San Francisco, except in the few neighborhoods that they’re “allowed”.  Or, as a result of the “criminal commuters”.

      For example, those guys who brutally robbed that guy in San Francisco’s Chinatown were from Antioch.

      Police Arrest Suspects Who Allegeldy Assaulted Victim During Chinatown Laundromat Robbery (

      This is also the same reason that crime is relatively low in places like Marin (and to a lesser-degree, Davis). But a major city like San Francisco is always going to attract criminal commuters – especially when it’s viewed as accommodating of crime.

      Wondering if there’s any statistics regarding the number of “criminal commuters” to Davis. Or maybe more accurately, “stopping by” on their way to somewhere else.

      1. Carlos Garcia

        But both of you miss the point.  The narrative is that Boudin’s policies are not working.  And yet, the data on violent crimes shows the opposite.  Everything else you are saying is just smoke.

        1. Ron Oertel

          When you have two vastly different communities, along with temporary impacts of Covid – any comparison in regard to “proving” one approach over another over a short period of time is pure smoke.

          And actually, that’s what Boudin’s supporters can note, as well (when it’s implied that crime is increasing due to him).

          But a lot of these campaigns attempt to utilize impressions, regardless. And if folks are fearful of an increase in crime (and attribute it to at least partly to a lack of enforcement), that’s one of the most powerful emotions that can be emphasized in a campaign.

        2. Carlos Garcia

          But again, you have a case where Boudin is being attacked even though violent crime is going down in his city.  Gascon is being attacked in LA even thought violent crime went up under the traditional prosecutor predecessor.  There is a huge problem with this narrative and you appear to be making excuses not to acknowledge it.

        3. Keith Olsen

          Carlos, where are you getting your numbers?   According to this article all crime is up in San Francisco including murders.

          SAN FRANCISCO-The number of homicides in the city of San Francisco has already eclipsed the number of people who were killed last year, and there are still 36 days left in 2020 and COVID-19 may be to blame for the increase in killings.
          Police say homicides and street violence are up all over the country including in San Francisco. 2020 isn’t even over yet, but San Francisco has already exceeded the number of homicides in all of 2019. There were 45 homicides by Tuesday, there were 41 in all of 2019.


        4. Carlos Garcia

          That’s false as well.  According to the CompStat data, total part 1 property crimes is down 33 percent from February 2020 to 2021.  Burglary is up, Auto thefit is up and arson is up, but larceny and auto theft are down.  If you cherry pick the data, then you can argue crime is up, but both part 1 violent crime and property crime is actually down.

      2. Bill Marshall

        Criminals can’t afford San Francisco, except in the few neighborhoods that they’re “allowed”.  

        Like Marin, right?

        SF has Hunter’s Point, Marin has “the Canal” area in SR… seems you equate criminality with economics and ethnicity… gotta’ segregate those folk into small areas to keep them from ‘contaminating’ the rest, right?

        Got news for you… criminality crosses all ethnic/economic boundaries… old news…

        1976 Chowchilla kidnapping – Wikipedia

        All the perps came from upper middleclass families… all were ‘white’…

        1. Ron Oertel

          Bill:  Say whatever you want, but I’d avoid Hunters Point, the BayView district, much of Oakland, Stockton, Pittsburgh, Antioch, etc.

          If you want to go strolling through those areas, I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point, you end up like this guy:

          Police make another arrest after disturbing video of Asian man attacked while collecting cans in San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood – ABC7 San Francisco (

          I don’t attribute “cause” to it.  But I’d suggest ignoring the problem at your own risk.  I have common sense, and I suspect that most people do as well – whether or not they acknowledge it.


        2. Bill Marshall

          Ron… [edited]… ironically that could well make you a victim… from the time I was ~ 18, until now, when I walked thru those type of areas (including near the Greyhound station in SF ~ midnight-1 A), many parts of Pittsburgh (had family there), Manhattan (after midnight in supposedly ‘rough’ neighborhoods), I walked confidently, fully aware of my surroundings, and making it clear I was aware… no problemo… and I’m a skinny dude…

          Great study, done years ago, interviewing those convicted of personal assault crimes (in SF County, no less) gave convincing evidence that they preyed on those who seemed tentative, fearful, were not ‘paying attention’… one ex.  (vingette)  23 year old daughter, and I (early 50’s) walking in lower Manhattan ~ 1 A (2007)… someone started following us… a couple/three blocks… without saying anything, I turned my head, the guy noticed that I noticed him… he paused, and went in a different direction… we kept on walking as we had… I’m 150 lbs, when I’m dripping wet… daughter didn’t even realize what happened, until I told her many hours later… so we were both walking confidently… no worries…

          Surely, that would not have worked if someone had strong MH issues…

          If I have a reason to walk in Bayview, Canal, Hunters Point, I’ll do it… and will show no fear, but will be aware… won’t do it for ‘sport’… but if you don’t believe what I’m speaking to, let’s schedule a walk together through one of those neighborhoods, day or night… 50 feet apart… I suspect I’d be around to tell the tale about how Ron O was accosted…


        3. Ron Oertel

          Well, I’m not much into “victim-blaming”, but I would pay attention to actual crime statistics.  You can find them online, and they do correspond with the areas that one would normally suspect.

          Also – parts of Sacramento, Richmond, etc.

          I would agree that it’s not likely to happen every single time, but that your other tips may (or may not) help.  For the most part, I suspect that most people avoid those areas (either purposefully, or simply because their lives do not intersect with those areas).

          In contrast, you can probably roam around Tiburon at any hour of the day, and not EVER be accosted (except perhaps by the police, if they wonder what you’re doing at 3:00 a.m.). And that goes for “people of color”, as well – they won’t likely be victims of crime, there.

          I used to think that Davis was exceptionally safe (at all hours), but it seems that some “criminal commuters” have made their presence known, lately.

          Interestingly enough, I was just speaking with a “person of color” (non-Asian), who said that one of the considerations in staying in a particular area was due to high levels of crime in the other area he had considered (and perhaps, how that could impact his family, as well).  It was not something I brought up, but I’ve heard this type of comment from others, as well.  Turns out no one wants to live in high-crime areas, with the possible exception of criminals.

          And yeah, criminals are “allowed” to be in certain areas, via differences in housing price (as well as that disaster known as federal public housing – of which some remain).


      3. Alan Miller


        ironically that could well make you a victim…

        Avoiding areas that one senses are less safe could make one a victim?  Please, connect those dots.

        when I walked thru those type of areas . . .

        What “types” of areas is that, exactly?

        including near the Greyhound station in SF ~ midnight-1 A

        I was talking to someone about taking public transit in the Bay Area, and she interrupted me and pointed that there’s a difference between how safe women feel then men about using public transit, especially when getting off and walking alone . . . I had admit I hadn’t considered that.

        Would you have made the same comment if RO were a woman walking alone?

        Another friend called me from Oakland one night and told me where she was and where she was going, and asked if I thought it was safe to walk.  I said, “Hell, no, take an Uber!”.

        I walked confidently,

        “Walk confidently” . . . that’s what I should have told her instead!  How fearful and bigoted of me not to send my friend into one of “those types of areas” at night alone on foot.  Walk confidently and carry a big gun, maybe.

        let’s schedule a walk together through one of those neighborhoods, day or night… 50 feet apart…

        Sounds like a date 😐

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