During Greg Corrales’ second stint as captain of the Mission police station, violent crime fell, in part, because the 43-year veteran of the San Francisco Police Department worked closely with community organizations. At the same time, however, the Mission experienced an increase in property crime.
Corrales, twice the captain of the Mission station, handed over the post this month to Robert Moser, a former lieutenant at the Bayview station and beat cop on Sixth Street.
“Certainly I would have liked to remain,” Corrales said. “As far as I am concerned, [Mission station] is the best in the police department. I support any decision Chief Suhr makes.”
Captains are reshuffled occasionally based on the needs of the station, an SFPD spokesman said. Corrales’ current stint as the Mission’s captain began in Nov. 2009. He previously held the post from 2002 to 2004.
Violent Crime Down, Property Crime Up
During his tenure, violent crime, including homicides and aggravated assaults, decreased. In 2008 there were 1,246 reported incidents of violent crime, compared to 1,052 incidents in 2011, according to police figures.
Homicides are also at a low point. In 2008, Mission station recorded 18 homicides; the following year the number fell to four. There were six homicides in both 2010 and 2011.
“It shows that crime is stabilizing,” Corrales said.
The challenge for Moser will be to reduce property crimes, including burglaries and car break-ins, which are up 23 percent in the Mission.
In 2009 there were 3,597 incidents of property crime, compared to the 4,415 incidents reported in 2011, according to Compstat figures.
Moser, whom Corrales described as a “rising star,” wants to continue some of his predessor’s strategies.
“We need to complement our enforcement efforts with community policing, partnering with the community and establishing open lines of communication,” he said. “In the public safety business you need to have the enforcement piece and the community piece.”
To run the Mission station, Moser, who was raised in Noe Valley, needs to be able to work with different constituents, said Phillip Lesser of the Mission Merchants Association. Mission station is responsible for patrolling the Castro, Noe Valley and the Mission.
“There are many different neighborhoods with different issues; you have to be flexible. You have the Castro, quite different than western side of Mission, next to Dolores, [and] it’s quite different from 25th and Folsom,” Lesser said. “The captain has to have the flexibility. I always thought of that with Corrales.”
Community Partnerships Helped Reduce Crime
Violent crime is down because of partnerships the police force formed with community organizations such as the Community Response Network and Homies Organizing the Mission to Empower Youth, Corrales said. These relationships, he said, helped the police curb gang violence and violent crime.
“We had a good working relation,” Corrales said. “I think that is the primary reason we were able reduce gang violence.”
When Aldo Troncoso was shot to death in gang territory last year, police officers were in constant contact with community organizations. Soon after the shooting, plainclothes officers and members of the Community Response Network patrolled the area where Troncoso was shot, at 17th and Mission streets.
Police combed the Mission and arrested anyone in violation of probation, to get them off the streets. Meanwhile, staff from community organizations took kids out to the movies and to eat pizza.
Time after time, police and community organizations put out the flames through diplomacy, Corrales recalled.
“There was not violence,” Corrales previously told Mission Loc@L, “though there was huge potential.”
Supervisor David Campos, who worked with the captain during such emergencies, praised Corrales’ work.
“We had a very good relation that has been effective in addressing the concerns of the community,” he said.
Good police work helped reduced crime, but the neighborhood has also changed.
At a recent community meeting organized by a watch group in the 200 block of Guerrero, many in the audience were primarily concerned about quality of life crimes occurring across the street at Valencia Gardens.
Corrales did not dismiss their concerns, and encouraged them to continue calling police, but said it was a relief that violence is no longer a frequent occurrence at Valencia Gardens.
Corrales thrived at community meetings, where he formed friendships with merchants and residents who liked his easygoing but attentive manner.
“If four people wanted to meet to hear their concerns, we met with them,” he said. “We know that we need the trust of the community to succeed.”
But Corrales’ tenure was not without controversy.
Three of his plainclothes officers are under investigation for alleged misconduct during a drug-related arrest at the Royan Hotel on Valencia Street. Corrales did not comment about the issue because the FBI is conducting an investigation.
Corrales tried to boost morale after the incident by going undercover and arresting a couple of dealers on 16th and Mission streets. He also did it to send the message that drug enforcement would continue, he said.
Corrales dismissed reports that he was retiring. Last year he briefly ran for sheriff, and wondered whether he should enroll in a controversial program that allows officers to receive up to 90 percent of their pension on top of a salary. He did not enroll, despite being able to receive substantially more money.
He is looking forward to his new assignment at the San Francisco Airport, he said.
The police department recently launched a website to help with investigations and identifying suspects. It includes sketches of suspects and a database of stolen bicycles. It also published the video of the man who allegedly sexually assaulted three women on 24th Street. That, Corrales said, helped with the investigation.