SFPD's expensive Robbery Abatement Team stings don't always snag the thieves they're out to get
Just 35 percent of the cases were charged as misdemeanors, and the rest as felonies, according to the tally. "If it's charged as a robbery, it counts as a strike offense," points out Matt Gonzalez, chief attorney of the Public Defender's Office. He'd like to know whether the program will continue under the direction of newly installed Police Chief Greg Suhr, particularly since some of the officers have been pulled from RAT operations in the wake of the SRO scandal, but SFPD has not made any indications that it will reevaluate the practice.
While the busts may be catching criminals who would be taking advantage of vulnerable residents, Gonzalez and Dunlap question the tactic of manufacturing crime, saying it's an expensive operation that isn't the best use of public resources. Dunlap likens it to a fishing expedition with an incredibly shallow reach. "They're creating a different situation than they're trying to abate," he says. "There's something distasteful about going into the poorest neighborhoods and fishing with money."