SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) -- In a recent interview with KPIX, San Francisco's District Attorney called out police over spiking crime rates. On Tuesday, SFPD Chief Bill Scott gave his response.
KPIX obtained data from the San Francisco Police Department that shows the number of burglaries in the city shot up more than 62% from the beginning of the pandemic last year in mid-March until the end of 2020.
The accusation from San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin was perfectly direct. He said police aren't doing the work and cited the department's clearance rate, the percent of cases for which police make an arrest, the person gets charged, and the case gets handed over to prosecutors.
"When it comes to preventing crime, frankly we need to increase police clearance rates," Boudin told KPIX 5 in the interview. "Right now, police are only making arrests in about 10% of all reported crimes. There is no way we're gonna lock up our way out of a problem when police are only clearing 10% of reported crimes."
On Tuesday, Scott disagreed with that assessment.
"It's inaccurate," San Francisco Police Chief Scott said of the complaint. "It's a generalization that's very inaccurate. And I think if we're going to have a discussion about clearance rates we, should understand and help the public understand what we're talking about. Homicides are much different than car break-ins."
Chief Bill Scott flatly rejected the criticism of the SFPD's clearance rate. He said his department's numbers are very much in line with those around the country.
"Let's start with the most serious crime of them all, homicides. Our clearance rate for homicides in 2019 was 100%. Our robbery clearance rates, usually around 30%, year in, year out. Car burglaries? Our clearance rate is low. It's usually 2% to 4%. That's about average."
Given these tensions, how is the chief's office working with the DA's office?
"We talk through some of the issues, and sometimes we don't agree," Scott admitted. "We raise our perspectives, they raise theirs. There is a steady line of communication between me and the district attorney."
The district attorney has been steady in his criticism of the police force.
"There is now way that any prosecutor can successfully prosecute a case if the police don't make an arrest and do a good job investigating," Boudin said. "It's that simple."
The accusations have not been lost on San Francisco's crime victims.
"Just a bunch of fingers being pointed," said Rene Dennis, whose San Francisco restaurant has been broken into four times.
The chief said he is trying to avoid a public conflict.
"If I'm a victim of a crime -- and I don't care what type of crime -- the last thing I want to see is the police chief and the district attorney squabbling over nonsense," said Scott. "I'm not going to add to a circus environment when it comes to that. Let's stay focused on what we need to do."
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