A San Francisco Police Department strategy to reassign dozens of officers to neighborhood foot beats has contributed to a significant decline in thefts and assaults, a study released Wednesday found, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The report by the University of California Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy found that daily incidents of larceny theft — which include vehicle break-ins — dropped nearly 17 percent, and assaults dropped 19 percent in the months after Chief Bill Scott reassigned 69 officers to foot patrols on Sept. 1, 2017. The strategy nearly doubled the number of officers walking neighborhood beats. Many are deployed to property crime hot spots that include tourist attractions where out-of-town visitors fall victim to teams of stealthy thieves.
“It’s good news. It’s not surprising though,” said Deputy Chief Ann Mannix. “If we continue to educate the public and target the hot spots, hopefully we can continue to lower property crimes and the violent crimes as well.” The decision to shake up police staffing was an early test for Scott, who started in January 2017 after being hired from the Los Angeles Police Department. San Francisco continues to be in the throes of a troubling auto-burglary epidemic that hit an all-time high last year with more than 31,000 reported incidents. Vehicle break-ins have begun to trend downward this year compared with the same period last year, dropping 16 percent in the first 10 months, but incidents remain at near-record levels. The UC Berkeley study — done in conjunction with the California Policy Lab — comes as the police department continues to increase foot patrols. The department last month announced it would add 10 officers, two sergeants and a lieutenant to walk a gritty stretch of Market Street between Fourth and Eighth streets that is plagued by open-air drug use and aggressive street behavior.