In San Francisco, 3 cops serve 130,000 residents in Sunset precinct at night

Need a cop in San Francisco after a midnight crime spree leaves you splattered onto the sidewalk or showered under a sea of broken glass? 

Good luck with that one.

Police understaffing has reached such levels that in one of San Francisco's largest police precincts, three cops stand between crime, chaos, and ... you.

According to a report in the San Francisco Standard, that's what one of the county supervisors found and he's talking about it:

On any given night, San Francisco’s largest and most populous police district will only have three or four officers on duty, Sunset Supervisor Joel Engardio told The Standard.

The Sunset is served by the Taraval Police District, which covers at least 130,000 city residents on the SF’s west side, from Golden Gate Park’s southern edge to the San Mateo County border. District 4 Supervisor Engardio says the city’s growing police staffing crisis has hit the Taraval District especially hard. 

“It’s important for residents and business owners to understand just how short staffed our police department is that serves the Sunset,” Engardio said. “The staffing crisis is citywide, but it’s especially dire in the Sunset because [Taraval Station] serves 130,000 residents and is huge. But they’ve lost half of their force. On any given night, there might be only three or four officers to serve 130,000 people in the widest geographic area of the city.” 

It doesn't sound as though your odds would be good for getting a police car to come forward for whatever victimization you may have endured at the hands of criminals if the crime occurs on the police night shift.

Oh, it looks like the police stations are staffed, what with 63 officers at Taraval. But Engardio, the county supervisor, said that that figure is misleading: Most are preoccupied with station operations. That leaves three or four cops available for calls for a district of 130,000 people.

“Four years ago, we had 130 officers assigned to that station,” Engardio said. “Today, there’s only 63. Even 63 sounds like a large number, but when you break it down—officers who might be injured, who have to stay at the station to do basic operations and are given these multiple 24/7 shifts,” there are only a handful covering the huge area, the supervisor said. 

Admittedly, the Sunset District is not a crime hellhole. It's famous for its middle-class-ness, its modest, concrete-surrounded single-family houses, its dullness. Its voters are more likely to be conservative. It has many Asians and Asian-Americans. Historically, it's probably the safest, least-eventful neighborhood in San Francisco given its absence of social service agencies that are common in places such as the Tenderloin and the Mission. A police spokesman quoted by the Standard said that cops are distributed by levels of crime, meaning that places with fewer cops are in less crime-ridden areas, generally speaking. 

But that is a relative concept. Things are rapidly changing all throughout the city, and for the worse, ever since the twin curses of far-left progressive district attorneys and the defund the police movement got the hooks in. The Sunset has since seen crime spike by double digits, in this separate San Francisco Standard report here:

 SF Police Department crime data shows homes and businesses in the Taraval Police District—which covers from Golden Gate Park’s southern edge to the San Mateo County’s border—are increasingly being targeted for property crimes. It’s not just this past year, either; these western regions recorded a 47% increase in motor vehicle theft in 2020 and a 30% uptick in burglary for 2021. Now, larceny theft is spiking in western neighborhoods, rising 28% in 2022.  

With three cops on duty, in an area seeing double digit crime spikes, what must the rest of the city's police staffing look like?

The Sunset district is one of the more conservative districts in the city more likely to vote for law-and-order candidates, so the fact that they have just three or four night shift cops for calls raises the question of whether conservative areas are being defunded of cops more than liberal ones. 

Obviously the criminals know that their odds of getting caught in the Sunset are just about zero. They've treated it as an open invitation and gotten busy. This is what defunding the police looks like, and this has been the leftist truism emanating from the centers of power in San Francisco for several years now. The Standard notes that hundreds of police positions remain unfilled.

The Sunset residents should raise holy hell at city hall about this because they weren't the loudest of the defunders in that fair city, only the guinea pigs for what that looks like.

Image: Drngogo, via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0


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