On June 26, SF City Supervisor Eric Mar asked
SFPD Chief Greg Suhr how many officers have worked in each of San Francisco’s police districts over the past three years. The Chief hastily agreed. And we haven’t heard back. Mar’s request followed an unsuccessful effort by members of the Central City SRO Collaborative (CCSROC) to obtain this information. After Tenderloin residents were told that the area’s police staffing could not increase, they sought to see how staffing at other stations related to crime in its jurisidiction. But Suhr has resisted requests from Tenderloin community members and even Supervisor Mar to provide this critical information.
Prior to requesting a district by district breakdown for 2010-13, the CCSROC did receive an answer in the form of trends. Tenderloin police staffing declined 24% while city-wide police staffing declined by 12% since 2010, the SFPD reported. Frustrated by those numbers, residents and workers of the Tenderloin signed 1,500 petitions that called for an end to violence and an assurance that the Tenderloin receives adequate police staffing levels.
The CCSROC delivered them to Chief Suhr with a May 30th demonstration at the Hall of Justice, as this KTVU
report details. Happily, the Chief did come to the Tenderloin to meet with residents and hear their concerns. He was jovial but he failed to reciprocate with a straight answer.
Chief Suhr disagreed with his own department’s figures in an interview with CBS Bay Area
. Never mind that these statistics make no sense because he failed to give start and end dates. He claimed simply, “[P]olice staffing levels citywide are down 12 percent, [while] staffing levels in the Tenderloin are down seven percent.”
This inconsistency precipitated the CCSROC’s additional request that the SFPD provide police staffing levels from every station for the last three years. The department ignored our request—and the requests of another city supervisor’s office—until Supervisor Mar put the Chief on the spot during the Chief’s presentation to the Budget and Finance Committee.
SFPD delegated the task to the San Francisco Office of the Comptroller, which responded on June 26th that they would be in touch within a week. We are still waiting.
While most of the Tenderloin police officers do excellent work , the sever understaffing allows public drug dealing to persist. If we knew how many officers were at other stations, we could decide whether the city is allocating police resources in the most crime-savvy way.
It is alarming that Chief Suhr both refuses to provide this information, and that he can get away with it. One wonders what he is trying to hide.
Karin Drucker is an organizer with the CCSRO Collaborative