District Attorney reports new drug suppression efforts but acknowledges
residents don't see full results
The San Francisco spirit is willing for a combination of prevention,
intervention, and suppression to beat back district 6 drug related
crime, District Attorney Kamala Harris empathizes with residents.
But the means don't satisfy yet.
By Pat Murphy
July 25, 2006
Despite revamped drug suppression efforts on Market Street a
lack of police resources leaves residents wanting much more, the
District Attorney acknowledged Monday.
Residents voiced familiar refrain of no visible improvement on
the 900-1100 blocks of Market and along the 6th Street corridor,
drawing District Attorney bottom line explanation.
"District 6 has 70% of the crime in the City but does not
have 70% of the police," DA Kamala Harris told a District
6 community gathering.
"I don't want you to leave here feeling helpless or hopeless,"
"When I leave these meetings I go back and I talk with other
decision makers in the City, and I say listen this is what I'm
hearing from that community," she reported.
Harris made the remarks before South of Market neighbors convened
by a group calling itself the Community Leadership Alliance.
"We can do a lot more and there's a lot more to be done,"
A lot has been done, she said, which may not be fully visible
on the streets.
"I don't intend to stand here tonight and suggest that everything
is rosy or perfect," pledged the District Attorney.
"I live in this district so I know what it's like to live
here and I know what it's like to see what's going on up and down
6th Street and up and down around the Hall of Justice, and in
the Tenderloin. I pass through these streets every single day."
Violent crimes and felony convictions increased markedly in the
last two years, she noted.
"As it relates to serious and violent felonies, whereas
in the year 2003 our conviction for serious and violent crimes
that went to trial was 63%.
"We have increased that to 78%.
"We have increased commitment to state prison for the felonies
that we prosecuted over the last two years as compared to 2003.
"We've increased the state prison commitment by 40%.
"We have almost doubled the convictions for complaints of
domestic violence that we received.
"We have doubled the number of misdemeanor cases that we
have taken to trial and therefore obviously exponentially increased
the convictions for things that range from DUI to quality of life
"We have created a child assault unit that did not exist
in the San Francisco DA's office, doing more focus around high
tech crimes and crime that is happening via use of the internet
and the web that can impact everyone as it relates to children
and cyber predators to seniors... who might use the web as seeking
financial transactions... of fraud."
Additionally drug crime has become a priority for the District
Attorney's Office, Harris detailed.
"About 60% of our cases involve drug cases and narcotics.
"It impacts the most people in our community and for that
reason we've created around drug crime in our office.
"One of the first areas we focused on was Drug Court.
"Part of what the criminal justice system does when it is
smart is focus on the reasons people commit crimes to do something
about the underlying cause.
"Over time this court that had been designed to deal with
people who commit crimes due to their drug addiction had become
a haven for sellers and drug dealers - and it was time to put
a stop to it.
"So, with a lot of protest from the Public Defender's Office
and some people on the bench, we put a stop to allowing drug sellers
and drug dealers from going into Drug Court."
Harris also extended stay away orders from 150 feet to an entire
neighborhood, she reported.
Even so, those present uniformly complained the streets remain
rife with drug related crime.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is expected to approve
a City budget allocation by August 1 for 250 more police officers
in the coming year.