By Ankita Joshi
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Over the last several weeks, a series of San Francisco Chronicle reports have drawn questions about whether the local police department is doing enough to stop crimes in the city.
The reports cast doubt on whether “local officers are… stop(ping) alleged crimes in progress or properly investigat(ing) them after they had occurred.”
In response to these reports, San Francisco Supervisor Hillary Ronen sent a letter of inquiry to Police Chief Bill Scott this past Tuesday.
In her letter, Supervisor Ronen cited three different SF Chronicle stories that discussed incidents where witnesses saw police officers fail to stop/investigate crimes in progress, such as vandalism, assault, and burglary.
Supervisor Ronen added an element of concern to the letter, noting the recall election of District Attorney Chesa Boudin might be creating a “political divide” between the SFPD and the DA’s office.
“It is absolutely unacceptable for police officers to just stop doing their jobs because they don’t like the way another department is doing its job,” charged Ronen in her letter.
And while Chief Scott has not responded to the letter, he did deny that the police were declining to stop crimes in a meeting with The SF Chronicle Tuesday, citing a kidnapping case that local officers had been working nonstop on, he claimed.
Data that show a low rate of arrests and crimes solved over the last year were also included in the letter, along with the critique noting the police budget had increased and the department’s responsibilities decreased, and police still were asking for more money.
Ronen stated, “I will be hard pressed to vote for additional funding until I see proof that increased policing solves the problems and needs of the residents and businesses of San Francisco. It is time to stop using the District Attorney as a scapegoat for broken morale in your department and start taking responsibility to solve the difficult problems in our City under your jurisdiction.”
Following Supervisor Ronen’s letter on Tuesday, Chief Scott and DA Boudin met to negotiate an interim agreement over how investigations into police use-of-force cases will be handled.
The current MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) Agreement is set to expire on Feb. 23, and “gives the district attorney’s office the power to investigate police shootings and other police use-of-force cases.”
Chief Scott has contended that the DA’s office has not “abided by its terms,” but has faced criticism from the Police Commission over his comments.
Chief Scott’s primary concerns reside in the concern that the DA’s office is not sharing information with the police during their investigations.
“We’re not trying to stop the district attorney from doing his job. He has a right as district attorney to investigate these cases,” said Scott in an interview with the SF Chronicle. “We support that. We’re not trying to stop that. But we do have to work collaboratively.”