San Francisco saw an increase in shootings and assaults in the first six months of this year compared to the same time frame in 2020 as the police department struggles with a shortage of 400 police officers, officials said Monday.
Police Chief Bill Scott said the city reported 119 shootings – fatal and nonfatal – compared to 58 in the first half of last year. The data follows a national trend many cities are experiencing. Shootings are up in Chicago, Los Angeles, Portland, Ore., Baltimore and Houston, to name a few.
“We’re almost double where we were in the last two years, and that is a huge concern,” Scott told reporters during a mid-year report on crime trends in the city.
He also said robberies were down despite viral videos showing brazen daytime thefts in retail stores. In a robbery caught on video last week at a Nieman Marcus in Union Square, 10 people went in, snatched designer purses, and ran out to waiting cars.
That video followed another one of a man filling a garbage bag with items inside a San Francisco Walgreens as people recorded him with their cellphones.
Currently, the San Francisco Police Department is short 400 officers, Scott said. Many police agencies have seen retention numbers drop as more officers decide to retire early amid an uptick in violent crime and calls to defund police departments in the wake of the George Floyd killing.
Scott used the news conference to push for more officers.
“This not a one-year thing,” he said according to SF Gate. “The mayor did all she could to keep us from getting smaller… Recruitment is very hard right now.”
At the start of the briefing, Mayor London Breed said the 1,000 car break-ins reported each month are likely perpetrated by 10 groups of people. She also acknowledged attacks on the elderly and Asian residents and the retail thefts, many captured on video.
In May, two elderly Asian women were stabbed as they waited for a bus in downtown San Francisco and the attack was caught on video. It was the latest in a series of attacks against Asian Americans in the city and nationwide since the start of the coronavirus pandemic last year.
“Those videos are not just going viral in San Francisco, they’re going viral all over the world,” Breed told reporters. “But what’s not going viral… is the fact that in almost every single instance our police department have arrested many of the people in these particular crimes.”