Video Clips, Citizen Tips Help Police Solve Violent Crime Cases

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Crime & Safety Report — Sponsored by Mainline Security

A front page article in last month’s View cited government statistics that indicate that less than half of all murders committed in San Francisco are solved. But according to Bayview Station Captain Raj Vaswani – partially supported by other public sector data – violent crime cases actually have a higher arrest rate.

The front page story also pointed to diminishing confidence in the criminal justice system by public housing residents, including those living in Potrero Annex- Terrace, leading to reduced cooperation with police. But Vaswani said witnesses are coming forward and video surveillance is helping police solve cases.

“We get many tips from the community either by personal eyewitness or video that help us solve cases,” Vaswani said. “Also, Bayview probably makes the highest number of gun possession arrests in the City.”

Police at Bayview Station, which serves Potrero Hill and Dogpatch, made about 100 arrests this year in gun crime cases, Officer Ellina Teper said by email. Thirty cases have upcoming court or trial dates; in 42 situations charges were dropped or the gun accusation was abandoned pending collection of additional evidence; 13 people were sentenced to county jail, followed by probation after

they’re released; 11 were juvenile cases or the outcome was unobtainable; and in four circumstances the subject died or a record couldn’t be found.

California Office of the Attorney General data indicates that just 60 percent of homicide cases in San Francisco were solved in 2014. Fifty-four percent of murders were resolved in 2013, 57 percent in 2012, and 36 percent in 2011, according to the AG. San Francisco’s criminal justice system solved 71 percent of homicides in 2009, the highest clearance rate since 2005; the lowest closure percent, 17 percent, occurred in 2008, according to AG data.

Although the AG data indicates that San Francisco’s 2014 murder closure rate was better than the 44 percent suggested by information collected by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as cited in last month’s View, the time period for the less than fifty-fifty clearance rate is uncertain. Depending on the number of murders that occurred between 2008 and 2014, it’s plausible that the City solves less than half its homicides.

Forty-five people were murdered in San Francisco in 2014, according to AG data, compared to 100 in 2007. Roughly 50 people a year have been homicide victims over the last six years, except in 2012, when 69 people were murdered.

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