Our New Top Cop Provides a Bernal Heights Crime Summary

While the rest of us were carousing on Cortland Street for the Summer Solstice Stroll, Citizen Sarah attended the San Francisco Police Department community meeting at Ingleside Station on Tuesday evening. Afterward, she did us all the great service of summarizing what transpired. There’s tons of detail to digest, but this is must-read information, so let’s dive right in:

Notes from Ingleside Community Meeting, 6/21/11

This was the first meeting led by the new captain, Daniel Mahoney. He started on the job three weeks ago. He spent some time on his background. He has been with SFPD for 29 years, and he was on the night watch at Ingleside about 10 years ago. In the interim, he worked at the Hall of Justice in various capacities, including head of the special investigations unit and commander of the Office of the Chief of Staff (which oversees community relations, internal affairs, legal, etc.). He also holds top secret clearance with the FBI. He was the other finalist for the chief job that was ultimately offered to Greg Suhr. He came across as a very senior figure, if that makes sense — someone who is very experienced with the entire police system and infrastructure. Ideally, this will be positive for the neighborhoods that make up the Ingleside District.

He considers his policing priorities to be (1) responding to emergency calls well, (2) solving crimes, and (3) community policing. With respect to community policing, he said that arrests alone don’t solve problems – you must have community involvement to do so. His approach to solving problems involves both education and enforcement.

Other attendees at this meeting were Captain John Feeney, head of the night watch at Ingleside (and overseeing the entire city), 7pm-5am; Ed McMahon (no, not that one) from the Office of Citizen Complaints, which oversees complaints against officers; and Chief Rubenstein of Fire Battalion 9.

Crime Update:

I asked about the May 11 Holly Court homicides, and he could not say much since the investigation is being run out of the main SFPD investigations unit and they are restricted on what they can reveal. I also asked about the May 23 manhunt in Bernal (involving a CHP plane and heavily armed SFPD officers), but it was before he started, and he did not know about it, so the mystery will continue for now.

I also asked about the thefts of succulents and other plants in Bernal, and he was not aware of them. PLEASE report these if you have experienced such a theft – call 553-0123. [EDITOR'S NOTE: Reporting all crimes is critical because so much of modern policework is managed via statistical analytics. No report = no data = no resource allocation.]  Another attendee said that succulents from the San Jose/Guerrero mini-park had been taken, and she had had a rosemary bush stolen from in front of her house.

Captain Mahoney discussed city-wide and Ingleside-specific crime statistics for the May 22 to June 18 period. In general and in Ingleside, crime is down. The exceptions are robberies and automobile break-ins. Robberies continue to involve iPhones and other electronic devices. He called the ubiquitous white earbuds “attractors” that signal to a thief that you’ve got something valuable. People leaving BART stations continue to be targets. The typical situation is that the robber will spot someone walking alone and then rob them one or more blocks away from the BART station, especially on a less-trafficked side street. There have been two recent robberies on Thor, which is off of Chenery in Glen Park – one was at 5pm and the other at 12:30am. The captain is deploying decoys and plainclothes officers and also trying to figure out other ways to increase the police presence in these areas, given that they don’t have any additional budget to work with. He also mentioned putting decoys with iPads on MUNI routes that have seen thefts.

Auto break-ins continue. Shaved keys that work with older Japanese cars (Honda, Toyota, Nissan in particular) are used most of the time – there are few actual break-ins with these cars. If you own one of these, he said to get an engine-kill switch and/or a steering-wheel club. If you have a GPS device, thieves will break in if they see the disk mount on the dashboard, even if you’ve removed the GPS unit itself. They will assume it is in the car somewhere.

He mentioned two good arrests – one on Alpha Street in Vis Valley, when an elderly woman called 911 during an attempted break-in, and the police caught the burglar and tied him to a recent armed burglary in the Bayview. The other robbery occurred on the 3100 block of Mission on Monday night, when thieves stole an iPhone 4. The victim had the Find My iPhone app, which then allowed SFPD and the victim to follow the phone to 14th and Valencia, where the police arrested the robbers.

Initiatives:

Captain Mahoney said he is not a fan of vehicle enforcement to raise revenue for the city, but he will do it in so far as it promotes public safety. He plans to have pedestrian decoys (decoy pedestrians?) at various crosswalks to catch cars that don’t yield. He also wants the officers to focus on the five intersections with the most traffic accidents, one of which is 30th/Mission. Finally, he plans to undertake a distracted-driver campaign to catch people texting or using their phone sans earpiece. He does not mind having this information out there, he said, because his goal is to get people to stop doing the targeted act (texting, not yielding, etc), not to issue tickets.

Of particular interest to the Bernal community is that Captain Mahoney is trying to restore, even partially, some level of foot patrols on Cortland. There is no new money for this, but he proposed, for example, having officers park on Cortland and walk around for an hour or so to make sure that they are known to and connecting with members of the community (vs. driving around for their entire shift).

Other:

There is a Police Commission meeting in the community next Weds., 6/29, at 6pm. The meeting is in Vis Valley at 450 Raymond Street. He said there would be plenty of security at the meeting.

There was some discussion of staffing at Ingleside. The station has 109 officers with a goal of 115, which is unlikely given the budget and impending retirements. He said that in the next three years, 500 SFPD officers will be eligible for retirement; meanwhile, because of budget issues, there are NO police academy classes scheduled for 2011/12. During his interviews for the chief job, Captain Mahoney advocated hiring trained officers as lateral hires from all of the area police forces that are doing major layoffs (e.g., Oakland, San Jose) because it is an opportunity to get excellent officers who require much less training (and therefore expense). He is concerned about how SFPD will deal with the America’s Cup in 2013, which will be a 44-day event and will require a great deal of security.

Chief Rubenstein from Battalion 9 spoke about emergency preparedness. He encouraged everyone to go to www.72hours.org and get prepared for an earthquake. He also encouraged people to become volunteers for the Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT) by undergoing NERT training and certification.

THANK YOU, Citizen Sarah for this amazing report.

PHOTO: Telstar Logistics

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One Response to Our New Top Cop Provides a Bernal Heights Crime Summary

  1. GG says:

    LOL, the succulent theft issue is a great bit of neighborhood color. I can’t find it now, but I have a picture of a house on Arlington with a sign that says “PLEASE DO NOT STEAL OUR CACTUS,” but they did not have any cacti, only succulents. So apparently this is a problem in Baja Noe as well.

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