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Monday, July 21, 2014

BRITE hosts Violent Crime meeting with SFPD

BRITE convened its general meeting this past weekend and the major topic on the agenda was the recent uptick in violent crime.  Below are minutes from the meeting as supplied by BRITE:
Lt. Ng substituted for Captain O’Sullivan who experienced transportation delays returning from his vacation.  Lt. Ng has 14 years in crime prevention – 4 of which were spent in Homeland Security. He briefed us on the current situation regarding the recent spike in gun violence in the Bayview and a great discussion ensued. Lt. Ng was very candid and responsive to questions.  He reported that: 
Things have been quiet over the last few days. 
There are a lot more officers patrolling now, especially at night. 
There has been stepped up traffic enforcement and searches of suspected parolee’s houses among some of the main tools being used to abate crime. 
There was a recent press release about the Norbert brothers who are notorious for violence in the Bayview. They are now in custody. 
Lt. Ng was quizzed as to reason(s) criminal suspects are part of the “revolving door” system of justice.  Lt. Ng opined:
1. People arrested for gun possession are often released quickly because gun possession is not a felony. 
2. The DA declines to prosecute many solid cases, including one where there was clear video footage of the suspect actually firing the gun and DNA evidence on the gun.  
3. DNA evidence is sent to Texas and takes as long as 5 weeks to process. 
4. Bayview station takes all shooting incidents seriously and Lt. Ng showed us a detailed report with bar charts detailing the 104 shooting incidents that have taken place year to date. People were hit in 60% of the incidents. 
5. Bayview station has staffing problems with staff recently cut by 25% due to retirement etc. 
6. Many guns are being taken off the street but there are still about 300 out there. 
7. There is actually less staffing in the summer despite the usual uptick in violence because officers tend to take vacations in the summer same as everyone else. 
8. Shot spotter technology is very useful; however, not perfect and still requires human interpretation and interaction. More shot spotter devices have been added recently.
Suggestions to abate crime from attendees included:a) Installation of Police kiosks.b) More rewards for crime information.c) Reporting bad lighting.d) More surveillance cameras.e) Invite the DA to a BRITE meeting.f) More gun buy backs.g) More National Night Out events. 
Privately owned surveillance cameras highlights: BRITE has sent a letter to the City government - Mayor Lee, Supervisor Cohen, District Attorney Gascon, City Attorney Dennis Herrera, and others requesting a “Zero Tolerance” policy towards shootings be implemented. There are many people in public housing who want to help the police but don't know how to do so safely.  Putting up new cameras is complicated: can involve many departments and can be resisted by various groups in addition to the “Big Brother” issue. There are often challenges with positioning cameras so that they don’t look into private areas, etc.
BRITE board member, Tracy Hogar with email address trachoger@gmail.com is working to create a private security camera campaign similar to Potrero Hill’s. City of Fremont also has a program which Potrero Hills is modeling theirs program after. Private camera information is useful to police.  HD is best. Anonymity is carefully guarded by the police. Bayview station has a full time video retrieval officer. Cameras vary in price from $350 to much more.

It sounds like there was a lot of information given about the current state of affairs, but a few things jump out at me:

- "despite the usual uptick in violence...officers tend to take vacations in the summer..."  This needs to change.
- "staffing problems" need to be fixed immediately.
- "there are about 300 [guns] out there" says to me that if SFPD knows how many there are, then they likely know who has at least some of them.  Can this be?

What I don't see in the roundup is any comment from the Supervisor's or Mayor's office (was anyone from either office in attendance?) or answers to questions from those assembled (was there a Q&A)?  If the Supervisor's office was there, what next steps did she offer?  If she wasn't there, does that mean she is leaving this up to BRITE and all the other various neighborhood groups to figure out on their own?  If that's not the case, then I'd like to know her plans for assembling people and leading on this.

What other groups (including those concerned with the big brother issue) were in attendance Saturday?  Were other supervisorial candidates present, and did any of them offer ideas on how they would help solve the problem?

What next steps were proposed, whom do they involve, and what is the timeline on getting things moving?

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