Inadequate police staffing led to tragedies
Sunnydale Housing Project widow Matasha Crosely mourns shooting
death of husband Jaquain Williams she deems needless. Adequate
police protection for Sunnydale residents would have prevented
the tragedy, Crosley implored.
April 4, 2006
By Aldrich M. Tan
City effort to craft community policing is slowed by understaffing
of the San Francisco Police Department, department command officers
told City officials Monday.
The number of police officers "is the bare minimum"
and falls short of neighborhood expectations for crime suppression
citywide, Captain Paul Chignell related.
Captain Paul Chignell
Chignell delivered that overview to the Select Committee on Gun
and Gang Violence as committee members focused on four troubled
Ingleside and Visitacion Valley housing projects.
And residents of the crime plagued sites who rely on San Francisco
Housing Authority for police protection are left without coverage
12 hours a day, speakers complained.
Inadequate police coverage led to tragedies, emotional housing
project residents recalled.
The shooting death of Jaquain Williams was preventable, his widow
Matasha Crosley mourned.
Matasha Crosley is left with small son Jaquain Jr. to raise. Her
apartment was vandalized on Mother's Day. The housing authority
police were unavailable to help her when she called the office
around 11:00 p.m. "Someone threw a bottle through the window
and it narrowly missed my child. Where was the police when I needed
To meet immediate need the Housing Authority Commission is considering
reallocation of budgeted funds to pay for heightened San Francisco
Police Department staffing, reported Housing Authority director
Housing Authority Greg Fortner details increase City policing
A total of 28 City officers will augment patrol the under the
plan, Fortner stated. In part, the proposal requires Housing Commission
approval to shift $1 million federal funding for housing project
police services to compensate City police overtime expense.
Police Captain Albert Pardini said 11:00 p.m. is when Housing
Authority police officers in the Bayview district go off duty
after their 12-hour shifts. He said dialing 911, which Crosley
did, will guarantee a police response.
"But the call responses vary especially on what is going
on at the time," Pardini said.
Additional City policing drew skepticism from Committee Member
Ross Mirkarimi. It may be "a backdoor means to increase police
overtime," Mirkarimi told the Sentinel and spotlighted need
for more police coverage in the Fillmore District.
"Whatever is being suppressed in one district could re-appear
in another district," Mirkarimi said.
Committee member Ross Mirkarimi represents the Fillmore District,
heavy hit by violence too, he said.
Speakers joined committee members emphasizing crime prevention
as essential to community policing.
"It's not just about the cops," he said. "The
energy and focus of the issue needs to be expanded," echoed
Committee Member Tom Ammiano.
Crime prevention must take an equal role with crime suppression,
Committee Member Tom Ammiano asserted.
The city put too much reliance on one public safety department
to address a more complex situation, said Sharen Hewitt, executive
leader of the Community Leadership Academy and Emergency Response
"The police is only one of the key players in addressing
the problem," she said, "but public safety cannot completely
be dependent on police security."
Surveillance effectiveness varies by district, said Cäti
A. Hawkins-Okorie, a case manager for the Critical Incident Response
Cäti A. Hawkins-Okorie
"I often see the Hunters Point office closed with its shades
shut," she said. "It's like the police officers are
afraid to be there."
Hawkins-Okorie said she supports the community street worker
"The police only come when they are called," she said.
"Prevention is the more effective solution."
Monday's discussion is valuable to shaping the city's annual
budget, Supervisor Sophie Maxwell said.
Committee Chair Sophie Maxwell
A recommendation to allocate the city's budget surplus
of $6.8 million to violence prevention and intervention services
is under consideration.
The committee took no action in its ongoing review of City crime
prevention and suppression needs.
Aldrich M. Tan is
an intern with fogcityjournal.com