By Katherine Coviello
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – At a time characterized by rising concerns over the unfair criminal justice system, a tumultuous burgeoning recall campaign, and as questions regarding police apathy mount, bloated police department budgets and finger pointing from officials appear to be frustrating the San Francisco community.
One SF supervisor said the time was over for police and others to stop “using” SF District Attorney Chesa Boudin as a “scapegoat.”
According to a San Francisco Chronicle account, in the earliest hours of the morning on Dec. 31, firefighters found a parklet being damaged by a man.
Despite the police being called and interacting with the person who was disturbing the area, the man was eventually left alone and continued the behavior. The man who was believed to have done this was arrested during subsequent vandalism.
In response to this article, Police Chief Bill Scott pointed to understaffing and the scrutiny that has arisen from SF District Attorney Boudin’s attempt at police reform. The pair have been mired in controversy after Scott publicly announced that he was severing ties with Boudin’s office.
District Attorney Boudin is currently facing a recall election after accusations that his methods have led to increased rates of crime in the city.
“We’re doing things that have never been done before,” Boudin said in a New York Times article, “and that does make some people uncomfortable.”
In response to the parklet article by the San Francisco Chronicle, Supervisor Hillary Ronen wrote the “rift” needs to stop.
“I am concerned that the political rift between the Police Department and District Attorney’s Office is causing a deliberate work stoppage by your Department. I genuinely hope that is not the case but a series of reports in the San Francisco Chronicle and clearance statistics from your Department suggest otherwise.” said Supervisor Ronen in an open letter to Chief Scott.
Supervisor Ronen pointed to 2021 data that shows that Boudin had the highest charge rate since 2018; Boudin brought charges in 67 percent of cases brought to him by the police department.
“Furthermore, my staff and I have witnessed several captains and officers tell our constituents that there is no point in investigating or arresting perpetrators of crime because the District Attorney will not prosecute.” Supervisor Ronen continued.
“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.” Ronen concluded.
The Ronen letter proceeded to highlight concerning trends regarding police conduct in San Francisco.
Only 8.1 percent of reported crimes led to an arrest in 2021 which is the lowest arrest rate since 2011. Clearance rates also declined in every reported category over 2020-21 with an appalling 38 percent decrease in rape case solve rates, not to mention a 36 percent decline in larceny, and nine percent decline in car theft solve rates.
Additionally, in 2021 more than 40 percent of complaints included neglect of duty by officers. This can be characterized by failing to write reports and investigate crimes, among other things.