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)
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
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
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.
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