COMMUNITY EVENT: Castro safety meeting set for July 31st

Supervisor Wiener introducing Captains Moser and Corrales

Supervisor Wiener, DA Rep, Captain Moser, Captain Corrales, and Greg Carey (CCOP) attending January safety meeting

Supervisor Scott Wiener announced on Monday that he would be holding a Castro-area safety meeting, the second such meeting this year, in response to the continuing rash of violence and robberies perpetrated against Castro residents and visitors. The meeting is set for Wednesday, July 31st at 6:30 at the Eureka Valley Recreation Center (100 Collingwood Street). Police Chief Greg Suhr, Castro district station representatives, the DA’s office, and community safety organizations like the Castro Community on Patrol and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence will be there as well.

Supervisor Wiener has received a lot of criticism on his Facebook page as of late due to what some consider his inaction in dealing with the continuing crime in our neighborhood. The last meeting back in January served mostly as an informational meeting to show that the SFPD and other community groups were not just sitting idly by as crimes took place, though very little has changed to curb crime in the neighborhood since.

SFPD on Foot Patrol

SFPD on Foot Patrol

We asked Supervisor Wiener a few questions ahead of the meeting surrounding ideas about reinstating a foot patrol for the neighborhood, setting up a neighborhood walk with the SFPD, and how the Castro Community on Patrol security officers and volunteers have been helping.

With regards to a foot patrol for the neighborhood, Supervisor Wiener said that there are a few cops who do patrol the neighborhood, but not with as much frequency as he and the rest of the community would like. Wiener said this was due to the fact that SFPD officer staffing is at around 1,700, about 300 officers short from its 1,970 officer goal. As he mentioned at the January meeting, he successfully pushed the city into increasing the amount of yearly police academies, but doesn’t expect the gap to be filled until 2017/2018 due to the time it takes to run each academy and officers who are also retiring from the force.

When asked about the idea of setting up a neighborhood walk with the SFPD like the Lower Haight did last night to point out problem locations such as those with poor lighting, Supervisor Wiener said that such walks can be useful and that he would be interested in setting one up.

CCOP Self-Defense Training

CCOP Self-Defense Training

On the topic of the Castro Community on Patrol’s efforts to help maintain a safe environment for the Castro, Supervisor Wiener noted that the patrol is suffering from a serious shortage of volunteers. When the group was started in 2006 due to a similar rash of crimes including gay men being raped, the CCOP had about 150 volunteers. Today that number is down to around 30-40. Wiener also noted that starting more Neighborhood Watches would and has helped curb crime.

We encourage all Castro area residents to attend this meeting. We’ll be asking more questions surrounding the SFPD’s reliance on and success with closed circuit recording in Castro bars and planned changes to Pink Saturday event security.

What do you plan on asking/suggesting or what would you like us to ask/suggest if you can’t make it? Make a comment below.

Roy McKenzie

Roy has been a Castro resident since 2010 and is passionate about drag queens, bicycling, and food. Follow his babbling on Twitter.

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19 Responses

  1. Matthew says:

    This sounds great! But I ask you once again, how come this is not being held at “The Center”? What does “The Center” do besides be a giant metal building on Market?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 8

    • Roy McKenzie says:

      When/if you attend, ask Supervisor Wiener. We did not setup the meeting.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  2. Joe Cappelletti says:

    We live in one of the most expensive cities in the world. I don’t understand why we are short staffed when it comes to police. I believe we all pay dearly to live in this beautiful city and we should be much safer than we are. It seems every time that there is a big event in the Castro and something goes wrong we lose some of our civil liberties by closing events earlier there by denying a right to assemble, instead of being protected by using our tax dollars to protect us. It is a discrase that it would take five years to get our police force up to speed. How many of us need to be beaten, robbed, and killed before our city leaders start to protect us?

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    • rblack says:

      I’m not getting the impression that the city is down police because of choice. I think they are having a recruitment problem (i.e. qualified candidates).

      Could be wrong though.

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  3. Peter says:

    ” I think they are having a recruitment problem (i.e. qualified candidates).” Actually, the last time they took applications, in November 2012, they got 7000 applications. About half of the candidates made it through the oral and fitness exams. These 3500 people are competing for approximately 300 jobs. They all have to go through a comprehensive background check, polygraph, home visits, physical exams, etc. The entire process, from initial application to completion of field training, can take 3 years.

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    • rblack says:

      Cool thanks for the correction. So it’s not through lack of will. The city isn’t choosing to not fill the spots, it’s that the process takes too long.

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    • Roy McKenzie says:

      Peter,

      Thanks a lot for adding this info. This should help others understand and appreciate why it takes so long.

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  4. Peter says:

    I misspoke… I meant that about 1/2 of the candidates passed the *written* and fitness tests. The oral test comes afterwards. Also, in addition to what I listed, candidates also have to undergo a series of psychological tests.

    After the testing and background checks are complete, candidates usually wait several months (or longer) before they are offered a seat at the academy. The academy takes 7 months, after which — if they make it through, which about 30% don’t — they start field training. That takes another 6 months.

    What this all means is that the police officers you see around town are, almost without exception, extremely well screened and trained. So keep that in mind the next time you automatically assume they’re lazy or stupid or inept. Chances are, few of the people reading this could ever qualify to be a cop.

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    • Ramón says:

      One of this coming December’s graduates will be a resident of the Castro, born and reared, as was his mother and grandfather. I’ve watched the boy grow up and he’s the kind of son any one of us would be proud to claim as our own. He attended McKinley school as a boy.

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    • rblack says:

      I appreciate all the hoops they have to go through. Imagine people like Zimmerman making it through the process.

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  5. The city needs to fix the process and protect it’s citizens,. It shouldn’t take 3 years to hire and train and check their backgrounds. that’s ridiculous! The city is saying it takes 3 to 5 years, by the way. All the while people are being robbed and seriously hurt.There is no excuse for this. If it were you that was beaten and robbed would you think that this is reasonable?

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    • I didn’t the City shouldn’t be extremely thorough in screening and training, but 5 years seems excessive, besides do they not get police officers from other places that want to join our force? It seems it would cut some of the training time? It seems to me that if there is a spike in a particular area that the powers that be would want to target that area and step up the patrols and police presence to deter this activity.There have to be other solutions to this other than only hiring and training new officers. I’m not here to argue about training officers my concern it to try to work together to come up with a solution that won’t take 3 to 5 years. Is that a bad thing?

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  6. Peter says:

    “The city is saying it takes 3 to 5 years, by the way” – That’s 3 to 5 years to bring the SFPD up to full force, which means hiring and training about 400 officers. They’re planning 3 academy classes per year; each one graduates 25-30 officers. There is one “shortcut” they’re using: bringing in cops from other jurisdictions that are having financial problems, such as San Jose. They recently graduated an academy of “laterals,” as they’re known. But it’s still going to take several years to hire all the officers they’ll need, esp. since other officers will be retiring in droves in the meantime.

    And no, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for the City to be extremely thorough in screening and training the people who are authorized to exercise deadly force on our behalf — which they do all too often, in part because they aren’t allowed to carry tasers, but that’s a whole other discussion. And I was robbed at gunpoint in January. The 6 cops who showed up 3 minutes later were nothing but professional.

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    • Waiyde Palmer says:

      ..and do we think they’re taking into account the current growth the City is experiencing? 250K new future citizens are expected to be added to the population of SF w/a decade if you look at current City Planner data. Will the SFPD & City keep up w/the hiring practice w/in the Dept as well as SFFD, SFEMT’s and other first responders? It would be great to see a real plan for tackling this and other infrastructure issues that face the City as it continues to grow and evolve as a municipality.

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  7. Peter says:

    I think a lot depends on whether those new residents will actually improve The City’s tax base. Cops are expensive. The only reason the SFPD is able to expand right now is because tax receipts are way up.

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  8. RB says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

    • Ken Craig says:

      Hi RB:

      Sorry that was the only impression you took away from your time volunteering with CCOP. That is certainly not our goal or intention, nor do I believe it is in any way what we actually do.

      Despite being a volunteer, your information regarding our funding is entirely incorrect. The Castro CBD does NOT fund CCOP. We are funded in part by a small grant from the City and County of San Francisco and the remainder of our funding comes from individual donations and the fundraising efforts of our volunteers. We operate on an annual budget of around $20k, half of which pays for a part time administrator and much of the rest is used to procure the more than 70k free whistles we’ve handed out since we began patrolling in 2006.

      We do encourage anyone, homeless or not, who is breaking the law or acting in a disrespectful way towards the community by littering or urinating or vandalizing property to refrain from doing so, and if needed, we call on the Patrol Special Police or the SFPD to enforce that request. We don’t target any specific group other than those who are causing excessive noise, nuisance or vandalism. Indeed, with regard to many of the homeless who frequent the Castro on a regular basis, we have a good relationship with them and often find ourselves calling for medical attention more than we have to call for police.

      We are NOT a police service and CCOP agreements with the City and County and understandings with the SFPD mean that we act as “eyes and ears’ for law enforcement. We have helped to prevent or break up fights just by our presence. We’ve summoned medical aid to intoxicated and ill persons on numerous incidents and we’ve assisted SFPD in some high profile cases such as the Eric Escalon murder.

      We cannot please everyone, and we cannot be everywhere all of the time, as all of our patrollers and unpaid volunteers who work regular jobs and dedicate time and energy to help provide safety information, host free self-defense seminars, and patrol as an extra set of “eyes and ears” when we can. I personally think we do an incredible amount of good, with the small number of volunteers we presently work with (around 25 at the moment.)

      The best way to improve CCOP, or truly understand our role and function, is to get involved by volunteering and attending our monthly meetings which are open to everyone. Check us out if you want more information at http://www.CastroPatrol.org or 415-ASK-CCOP.

      Ken Craig
      Vice Chair of Castro Community On Patrol
      Director of Volunteer Training and Emergency Services Liaison

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    • Roy McKenzie says:

      Smells like a Komar fabrication. She’s obsessed with the CBD.

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      • Chris M says:

        If “harassing” the homeless means trying to prevent them from vandalizing, urinating, bothering people, and in general, making the Castro less livable for everyone else, then more power to CCOP.

        In my view, we are not doing nearly enough “harassing” in this city. It is not harassment to enforce the law and expect people to treat our community with respect.

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