The Volokh Conspiracy

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Fund the Police


From CBS SF Bay Area, quoting S.F. Mayor London Breed:

It's time the reign of criminals who are destroying our city, it is time for it come to an end. And it comes to an end when we take the steps to more aggressive with law enforcement. More aggressive with the changes in our policies and less tolerate of all the bullshit that has destroyed our city….

In recent months we've not only seen a number of high-profile incidents of brazen robberies and car break-ins but also street behavior and criminal activity especially in the Tenderloin that has become far too normal and cannot continue to be tolerated.

All of our residents, our workers and everyone who visits our city should feel safe no matter what part of town they are in. I know San Francisco is a compassionate city. We are a city that prides ourselves on second chances and rehabilitation. But we're not a city where anything goes. Our compassion should not be mistaken for weakness or indifference.

Breed was focusing on four measures:

  • "[T]argeting a pipeline of illegal drugs that has been fueling a surge in gun violence and deadly fentanyl overdoses."
  • "Securing emergency police funding for needed resources."
  • "Amending our surveillance ordinance so law enforcement can interrupt crime in real time."
  • "Disrupting the illegal street sales of stolen goods."

I'm skeptical that further crackdowns on drug sales are a good idea. Drugs always seem to win the War on Drugs, and fighting that war causes tremendous collateral damage; the gun violence stems precisely from the illegality of the drugs. But I'm glad that even S.F. is relearning the importance of policing street crime, both violent crime and property crime.

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  1. This is the sort of right-wing rhetoric you'd expect a clinger Trumpist like Breed to be spewing. Our so-called "crime problem" is a myth invoked by racists to justify oppressing people of color, especially trans women of color.

    Racist clingers like this Breed person need to be replaced by compassionate people in the liberal-libertarian mainstream.

    1. You're out of your mind. You ignore the very real crime issues, like drugs, the brazen robberies, and rampant homeless issue. It's a myth! Don't believe your lying eyes! Even better you somehow twist that into a screed about oppression and minorities. C'mon man! Get your head out of the sand and deal with the problem. Dishonesty like yours is what leads the decline of many major cities.

      1. {Yoda}
        Your sarcasm detector, calibration it needs.

        1. God, I hope so. You may be right though. Real life is often so absurd anymore that it is more difficult to distinguish.

    2. Actually, law & order plays across the board, once you get to a certain age.

  2. I've noticed a disturbing trend of EV posting about the need for police to keep criminals in check. I think Chesa Boudin has clearly shown that the path to lower crime rates is not prosecuting "crimes". With no prosecution there are no criminals, and then people quit reporting incidents of people performing supply chain streamlining acts as "crime".

    1. The crimes in the SF area include real crimes, not just war on drugs crimes and regulatory state crimes. If the police can figure out how to keep groups of people from smashing down windows and doors and looting stores, the area would be better off. Unless their method is stopping people on a hunch hoping to find contraband, which is a real possibility because that's the hammer they have and poor people look like nails.

      1. nah, much easier to decriminalize property and bodily damages of under $10k per specific incident and marvel at the resulting decrease in crime. It worked so well for the city regarding retail theft.

        Sorry, but she was all for every last bit of policy that brought this on. If the best way to bring safety and security to the city is to repudiate her policy positions then she needs to go.

        1. Bingo. Except that what started the problem is two statewide decisions: the initiative that made thefts under $750 a misdemeanors, and prosecutors' decision to prosecute neither that misdemeanor nor "lifestyle offenses" such as defecating in public.

          The public will not and must not permit these things to go on, and no amount of misguided so-called compassion can amend that one bit.

          1. It's the attitude of police, prosecutors, and courts that matters, not the classification as a misdemeanor or felony. If stealing a $50 trinket gets you a misdemeanor conviction on the record and a prior to be cited in the next case, your crime wave will not last. If stealing a $1,000 item doesn't get you anything on the record, you're free to try again.

    2. Unfortunately, Cal Cetín's sarcasm is closer to passing the original Turing test than yours. True supporters of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging and Justice (DEIBJs) world never use the phrase "supply chain" because it is (a) too market-oriented, (2) implies ecologically unfriendly distance, and (iii) reminiscent of oppression and slavery with all those chains.

      1. The last thing you want to do on the Internet is pass a Turing test, you really have to make it as obvious as possible.

        And I guess the "supply chain streamlining" was enough of a tell, "supply chain" reeks of capitalism. Obviously it should be abolished in favor of a "factory to dacha" distribution system eliminating (or more accurately liquidating) all the middlemen.

    3. "Supply chain streamlining"?

      I love it.

      1. That's the kind of thing which seems so obvious in hindsight that I will remain jealous of its coiner to the end of my days.

  3. On the East Coast, police are warning that traffic stops are down due to the way police are being mistreated. To which I say, good.

    1. Police interaction I had:

      Officer: Do you know how fast you were going?

      Me: Officer, everyone speeds on the Massachusetts 3.

      Officer: Right, but you were the slowest speeder and the easiest to catch.

      1. On the section of US 3 from Burlington to New Hampshire the State Police vetoed a speed limit increase. They must have complained to Mitt Romney and he backed them up; the real determiner of highway speed limits is the governor's office. They'd hate to see anybody drive past who they couldn't stop. So it's still 55.

    2. Did I miss something from that article? Not once does it mention COVIDs impact on commuting. I mean, if you cut the number of drivers in half (or more...way more actually), is it a surprise you cut the number of citations?

      1. In Massachusetts there was a time when most police departments were afraid to make stops for ordinary traffic offenses. That was roughly from the start of the pandemic until vaccine availability (traffic cops were high priority along with health care workers and old voters). The governor did order state police to write more speeding tickets, though. They may have been overtime patrols -- "any volunteers to earn time and a half to go shoot fish in a barrel?"

        By summer of 2020 traffic was not far down from normal, and by summer 2021 traffic may have been greater than normal because mass transit is considered dangerous. Even in early COVID times I'm told the I-95 corridor north of NYC was horribly congested. That area has the only heavily used suburban commuter rail system in the country, and much of that ridership tried to shift to the road.

  4. I am skeptical this new found love for crime fighting will last. Also, it takes more than the mayor. The prosecutors have to also be on board. And the judges. California, so good luck with that. They can arrest whomever they want - if the justice system is a revolving door its empty rhetoric. Three strikes is out of favor now, but its unusual that these crimes are committed by first time offenders. I am all about second and third chances. Fourth chances, not so much.

  5. There needs to be a better way then, crime surge, so crime crackdown, crime crackdown overshoot, so overincarceration, then criminal justice reform movement, then that overshoot, then crime surge ...

    Like these cycles will keep repeating unless there is an actual effort put in place to fix the underlying rot in the system. And nothing changes. There needs to be actual rehabilitation in place. I dont know what form that should take.

    1. What do you allege is the actual rot?

      1. Drugs, cultural disunity, race relations idiocy with organizations actively sowing discord, breakdown of family life and social order, extremely high cost of living, ... I'm an old school conservative, I can give the standard laundry list of complaints.

        But I understand the left wing criminal justice argument too ... look, throwing people in jail, then oh wait we threw too many people in jail let's free a few ... like you have done nothing to fix these people. There is a group of people in society who, as a result of their own decisions and societal position, are disfavored. We aren't doing anything to help them.

        1. Eh. Tough to buy the "underlying rot" argument considering crime rate trends over the last 40 years.

          SF decided to change their policing tactics. And they are suffering as a result. No need to look for "underlying rot.

          1. What do YOU think happened over the past 40 years that caused crime rates to drop?

            1. Well, Kevin Drum thinks it's mostly the removal of lead from the environment. (Paint/gas.)

        2. People is what the rot is, its not like we are some kind of noble beast, we're 98% chimpanzee. We might have had half a chance if we were closer to bonobos, gorillas or orangutans, but that's water under the bridge.

          But from there, it's pretty simple, you just have to make the disincentives of crime more daunting than the attraction of the incentives.

      2. The actual rot is the moronic notion that people have a civil right to destroy civilization "because richer than me."

        It's the job of police to stop that every time. And they'd better start if they want to keep their jobs.

    2. The underlying rot is criminals, who will commit as many crimes as you allow them to get away with. The solution is to lock them up. Criminals can't be in prison and out on the streets victimizing the population at large at the same time, so this works really well.
      Between fiscal concerns and the pro-crime lobby, the political willingness to do so varies. But criminals are overreaching again, so the voters may decide to defend themselves. Until it's too effective and the polity goes soft on crime again.

      1. Trump is a criminal. He's still victimizing the population. Republicans: pro-Trump, pro-crime.

  6. "If I see a naked woman running down the alley screaming, and a naked man with a knife and a hard on chasing her, I call it rape and shoot the son of a bitch."
    H. Callahan

    1. "When I see 5 weirdos dressed in togas stabbing a guy in the park in full view of 100 people, I shoot the bastard"

      F. Drebin

      1. At least once a week there's a comment that reminds me why I have not merely read the posts but also the comments on this site for a decade and a half. Today, that comment is yours.

  7. No resignation offered by the mayor for her part in encouraging the crime wave. No one fired or demoted either.

    Cheap words.

    1. There must be an election coming up.

      1. There are a lot of elections coming up.

        Clingers hardest hit.

  8. The obvious solution to the alleged crime problem / oppression of minorities is to decriminalize increasingly more conduct and continue to reduce prosecutions and punishment to further disincentivize people from reporting crime. That way all crime statistics will drastically reduce and prove we are all safer and happier, except for the racists. /s

  9. If you want to reduce police abuses, you actually have to do the hard work of making cops accountable for abuses while still requiring them to do their jobs.

    And if you eliminate bail, you have to make sure that prosecutors get the criminals off the streets the correct way, by prosecuting and convicting them in a timely fashion.

    But the defund the police and eliminate bail movements have made it difficult to do that.

    1. You understand that bail is for people who are legally innocent, right?

      1. Yes. That's why it's not the correct way to get criminals off the street, as I said.

        1. But you also claimed that the eliminate bail movement has made it difficult for prosecutors to do it the correct way.

  10. Let be clear, "Defund the Police" was a good idea pushed with a bad slogan. There have been far too many tasks put on the police departments. Most call for mental health issues don't need police as first responders. Traffic law enforcement could be better done with automatic surveillance. We really need to get a better drug policy for so many reasons.

    Increasing police payrolls and police enforcement will have a short-term effect of slowing crime but will not solve the problems.

    Final thought these large-scale smash and grabs are an area that does require the police. I think these are largely a short-term phenomena and once an effective strategy is found they will die out quickly.

    1. Sociologists aren't trained to handle a 250 pound homeless bum who's threatening to knife the imaginary people around him. Only the police can do that because they're trained for it.

      And as for "mental health issues" - are they higher now than, say 40 years ago? Or lower?

      1. The police are not, in fact, trained for it.

        1. Also, I'm pretty sure that imaginary people do not need protection.

          1. I am more confident that imaginary "good old days" have a remarkable number of fans.

  11. Sorry, San Franciscans. You voted for that commie DA, and the moron mayor: You deserve exactly what you voted for - gooderer and harderer....

    1. Speaking of taking it like that . . . have you enjoyed the American culture war during the most recent half-century or so of our national progress?

      I like four things: The liberal-libertarian progress; that you are powerless to change or stop it; that it will continue to be shaped against the wishes of bigoted, obsolete old right-wingers; and that you are entitled to whine about it in a free country.

      Is there anything in modern America that you like?

      1. I like the Board of Censors, but they seem not to be very active lately.

  12. If they had elected a teenager they'd get similar decision-making.

    1. Says the guy who lives in a community that subsists on street pills, Slim Jims, cheap six-packs, tobacco, Little Debbies, and a Hardee's three towns over.

  13. SF has a constellation of problems, and this mayor's infantile approach isn't going to solve any of them.

    1. tolerance of anti-social behavior on the streets;
    2. tolerance of low level crime;
    3. not doing anything about the organized gangs committing these big smash and grab thefts.

    It's not as if there isn't a blueprint for what to do. See Guliani's term as mayor of NYC.

    "In Giuliani's first term as mayor the New York City Police Department, under Giuliani appointee Commissioner Bill Bratton, adopted an aggressive enforcement and deterrence strategy based on James Q. Wilson's Broken Windows research. This involved crackdowns on relatively minor offenses such as graffiti, turnstile jumping, and aggressive "squeegeemen," on the principle that this would send a message that order would be maintained and that the city would be "cleaned up."

    At a forum three months into his term as mayor, Giuliani mentioned that freedom does not mean that "people can do anything they want, be anything they can be. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do and how you do it".[1]

    Giuliani also directed the New York City Police Department to aggressively pursue enterprises linked to organized crime, such as the Fulton Fish Market and the Javits Center on the West Side (Gambino crime family). By breaking mob control of solid waste removal, the city was able to save businesses over $600 million."

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