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San Francisco too lenient on crime

San Francisco is too lenient on crime according to Deputy Police Chief Morris Tabak. Tabak made the remarks at last night's Police Commission meeting. (File photo 5/4/6)
Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

By Brent Begin, Bay City News Service

January 10, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - A top San Francisco Police Department official placed the bulk of the city's crime problems on a "historically lenient approach to crime" at a police commission presentation Wednesday night.

According to Deputy Chief Morris Tabak, San Francisco courts are letting criminals out on bail at alarming rates and police officers are forced to arrest the same offenders again and again.

"As uncomfortable as this may be for some to hear, it needs to be said if we ever hope to deter criminal activity here and develop long-term solutions that will help make this city as safe as it could be and as it should be," Tabak said.

He went on to provide county and statewide statistics on arrest rates and compared them to statistics on how many of those arrested end up in prison. San Francisco, according to the numbers, is consistently among the lowest in the Bay Area and statewide as far as taking criminals off the street.

As a result, many criminals from out of town take advantage of the city's leniency and prey on its citizens, Tabak said. He cited 2005 numbers, which said that of 15,391 crimes committed in San Francisco, criminals from out of town committed 4,429 of them.

"A lenient and ineffective criminal justice system does not deter crime, it invites it," Tabak added.

But some commissioners suggested that Tabak was placing the blame on courts and probation departments without concentrating on what the Police Department can do.

"I think that the issue of the criminal justice system failing the city and county of San Francisco is a very complicated one," said Commission Vice President David Campos.

Commissioner David Campos

"The criminal justice system is composed of a lot of different institutions and the Police Department is only one component. With the understanding that there are only so many things that we can do, I'd like to focus... on those things and not really get into the issues that go beyond this jurisdiction," he added.

Commissioner Petra DeJesus echoed Campos' sentiments.

"I think we shouldn't forget what we did well... but I think we should also take a look at what we're not doing well and see what we can improve on and what we can do better."

Despite poor conviction rates and a backed-up court log, Tabak praised police. He said homicide numbers and other violent crime statistics are down because of a sustained strategy aimed at getting felons, drug offenders and other criminals off the street.

Commissioner Joe Marshall also complemented officers for their part in lowering the homicide count in 2006.

Copyright © 2006 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




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