Beat patrols: A case study

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If you want a case study that illustrates why San Francisco needs Proposition M, taken a look at Bernal Heights.

In 2008, two people were killed at the Alemany public housing project, topping off a disturbing increase in street crime. Neighborhood activists responded by working successfully with the captain of the Ingleside Station to a beat cop on Cortland Ave. Crime dropped.

But several weeks ago, Captain Louis Cassanego cut that foot patrol, citing the need to reallocate scarce SFPD manpower to more violent areas.

We couldn’t reach Cassanego, but at an Oct. 6th Police Commission meeting, Chief George Gascon said the beat patrol fell victim to budget problems. He explained that a beat cop on Cortland wasn’t needed anymore because the policy "was set there at a time when there was an increase in robberies... in this community that is no longer there today."

But comminity activists say that’s precisely the point: "When we got the beat cops, crime went down,” Joseph Smooke, executive director of the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center, told us. In fact, Smooke said, the foot patrol reduced overall crime in the surrounding neighborhoods as well.

And now, with the foot patrols gone, residents fear that crime will rise again.

Supervisor David Campos, a coauthor of Prop M, told us: "It doesn't make sense: the community wants more policing, not less. They rightly feel that we're moving backwards, that something they worked very hard for is being taken away."

Prop M would hamper future foot patrol cuts by requiring the Chief of Police to prescribe a comprehensive "Foot Beat Patrol Program" for all SFPD stations.

Says community organizer Buck Bagot, who volunteers with the Bernal Height Neighborhood Center, "It's hard not to think [Prop M] makes sense."

Prop M could also address what Bagot and Smooke agree is the larger problem: community-police synergy. Besides mandating foot patrols, Prop M would require the Police Commission to "adopt a comprehensive written policy on community policing," including "a plan for... open communication... among [SFPD] personnel and community members," with a focus on "neighborhood-specific policing priorities and strategies."

In recent years Bernal Heights community groups have fallen somewhat out of step with local police. Communication with Ingleside Station has at times been strained. The station's former captain, David Lazar, started a program in August of 2009 that alloowed merchants and residents to call cell phones that beat cops carried on duty. Cassanego ended that program, too.

Cassanego cut the Cortland Ave beat, he compensated by extending two bike patrol beats into that area. Though Bagot is skeptical that this will be effective, losing personal access to the police irks him most. "At least if we could talk with [the cops], we could work with them.... But if they're not going to patrol there anymore, and we can't call them on the cell phones, then we're kind of floating free."

Comments

Bike patrol officers speed by and can't see anything except traffic violations. That brings remuneration to the district and backs up the radio car. Typical stodgy move by Louis Cassanego, cut from the Denis O'Leary cloth.

There will be no progressive policing by Captains of his ilk. Vote yes on M and enforce foot patrols. They are already the law per Mirkarimi's ordinance. Why should we have to have another vote on this again? Just go no further than the POA.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 19, 2010 @ 4:36 pm

The article says >>>SFPD manpower<<<..........How about SFPD resources or workforce instead of "MANpower?"... since there are many women in the SFPD. Yes on M, No on L. I'm personally boycotting any business that has a "We support civil sidewalks. Yes on L, No on M." sign on their premises. Still no word from the hypocritical supporters of sit-lie how they propose to pay for Prop L since residents and merchants at a meeting in the Haight recently said no to additional $$ for street services. Still no word from the hypocritical supporters on where they propose to put the people rounded up under sit-lie. They remain silent on both questions. As someone else noted in another thread, the hypocritical supporters of sit-lie were sitting on the sidewalk last week at their event to promote sit-lie. (Click on the link below and scroll down a little more than half-way down the page and you can see them). I guess it's all right for them to sit on the sidewalk, but not SOME other people.

http://sidewalksareforpeople.org/

Posted by Guest Bárbara Chelsai on Oct. 19, 2010 @ 5:25 pm

YES on L please!!! I work hard and pay enough outrageously high taxes. I should at least be able to not have to walk around transient freeloading punks.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 20, 2010 @ 2:47 pm

Yes on L!!!! I pay enought outrageously high taxes and am sick and tired of seeing my hard earned tax dollars go to these out of town transients. Keep them moving and maybe they'll stop coming here in droves!!!!

Posted by Guest on Oct. 20, 2010 @ 3:00 pm
Posted by matlock on Oct. 20, 2010 @ 11:09 pm

Matlock?
Really?
What the fuck are you? An Andy Griffith fan?
Aunt Bee’s Anus or Barney Fife’s Ball Sack would be more like it.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 20, 2010 @ 11:37 pm

has a little sophistication.

Even Andrew Dice Clay's act had a little bit of a veneer to it, as dumb as he is.

Posted by matlock on Oct. 21, 2010 @ 12:02 am

actually.
Referring to him as "Barney Fife's Ball Sack" is pretty funny, too.
Gave me a laugh anyway.

Posted by OSunset on Oct. 24, 2010 @ 5:54 pm

Good for Bernal Heights--a longtime activist community that fights for what Bernal neighbors (and all SF'cans) deserve! Keep it up!

Posted by Guest on Oct. 21, 2010 @ 6:06 am

Once again, the Bay Guardian chooses against covering an issue with an open mind and sense of fairness. Foot Patrols already exist and they have increased every year since 2006. All Prop M would require is a written plan to the Board of Supervisors outlining a foot patrol program which is already outlined and written by the Chief of Police. Who would you rather have deciding where foot patrols are most needed, the Chief or the Board? The BOS should have no role in determining where foot patrols are most needed. Leave public safety decisions to the public officials and trained professionals who have decreased crime in the city. Take a look at recent crime figures which show that crime is decreasing citywide, mostly due to the fact that we currently have foot patrols in the areas that we need them most. Prop M is politics at its worse and I hope San Franciscans realize this. NO on M!

Posted by SF Citizen on Oct. 21, 2010 @ 9:46 am

Once again, the Bay Guardian chooses against covering an issue with an open mind and sense of fairness. Foot Patrols already exist and they have increased every year since 2006. All Prop M would require is a written plan to the Board of Supervisors outlining a foot patrol program which is already outlined and written by the Chief of Police. Who would you rather have deciding where foot patrols are most needed, the Chief or the Board? The BOS should have no role in determining where foot patrols are most needed. Leave public safety decisions to the public officials and trained professionals who have decreased crime in the city. Take a look at recent crime figures which show that crime is decreasing citywide, mostly due to the fact that we currently have foot patrols in the areas that we need them most. Prop M is politics at its worse and I hope San Franciscans realize this. NO on M!

Posted by SF Citizen on Oct. 21, 2010 @ 9:46 am

Not the Board Of Supervisors.
The taxpayers.
The taxpayers, whose taxes pay the salaries of the "public officials and trained professionals".
Every single one of the "public officials and trained professionals", including Chief Gascon from Los Angeles, are Public Servants.
Public Servants are paid to serve The Public.
Demanding that the people accept whatever policy suits the public servants is stupid and Un-American.

How can you possibly have a problem with the people of San Francisco deciding how their tax dollars are spent, and what sort of public services are most needed?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 21, 2010 @ 11:52 am

It's not just San Francisco...There's a bigger picture....

U.S. violent crime down to 1973 levels
http://tiny.cc/e54tc

The BOS should certainly have a role in determining where foot patrols are most needed. I have seen what some power-trip cops can do in this City and in other cities so I don't care to leave things entirely up to cops or the police chief. Especially a police chief who's pushing for draconian sit-lie when they already have all the "tools" they need, which has been documented by the Law Firm of O’Melveny & Myers LLP of San Francisco. Here's an example of thug cops....

Skateboarder arrested by SFPD (in this video the thug cop should have had the emotional maturity to ignore the comment from the skateboarder and deal with the legal reason the cop was there).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAsUOZpPN9w

NO on Prop L. Yes on Prop M.

Posted by Guest Bárbara Chelsai on Oct. 23, 2010 @ 1:33 am

Cortland Avenue is a series of small merchant vendors. It is one thoroughfare connecting Ingleside (Mission St) to the Bayview (San Bruno), so it does see a lot of traffic, but for the most part, is pretty safe, constantly filled with yuppy professionals shopping at trendy baby and pet clothing stores.

Crime is not bad on cortland.

The alemany projects is several blocks away, downhill. Most of the time, those people who pray on our taxes and buy their 40 oz Steel Reserve Liquor stay in the projects. The alemany projects also have SFPD housing officers which is Federal Money.

So how does the cortland footbeat affect . Cortland Ave isn't the tenderloin where footbeats make perfect sense.

Bernal Heights is not the Alemany Housing Projects.

All in all, more cops = less crime. But the liberal city & county of San Francisco allow these crooks to get away with murder.

Every other county in CA is above and beyond SF for prosecuting criminals.

Word.

Posted by Anon. on Oct. 23, 2010 @ 2:36 pm

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