Residents who had complained about a recent uptick in prostitution on Capp Street were back at last night’s police meeting, and for the most part they were happy because the situation has improved. But the problem does not seem to have disappeared, they said; instead, it has shifted to Shotwell Street.
“Thank you for all the efforts you’ve been doing these past few months; it’s making a difference,” said resident Gregory Dicum before handing Captain Robert Moser a survey he sent out to 217 residents who had signed a petition asking for more police presence.
Of the 217 residents surveyed, only 40 responded, Dicum said, but 23 percent of those residents feel that the situation on Capp Street has improved.
Moser told residents that he’s increased police presence on Capp Street and is happy that the patrols are helping. Mission Station’s vice unit has also increased its undercover operations in the last few weeks, he said, and arrests have gone up by 10 percent in the last month.
Although he doesn’t have official statistics yet, Moser said that his officers have made more than 40 arrests due to prostitution enforcement since last month’s meeting.
Some, however, feel that increasing the number of patrols on Capp hasn’t changed anything.
One resident said that as recently as Monday night she was kept awake from 2 to 5 a.m. by noise related to prostitution — something she’s had to deal with most nights for many years.
“There were at least a dozen out last night, right outside my bedroom window,” the resident said.
After she called police to complain about the noise of men pursuing the prostitutes, a police car patrolled the area. When the car left, someone she didn’t see walked up to the prostitute, hit her, and left.
“I don’t know what to do any more,” the woman said.
The Capp Street resident wants cameras installed. Police can only request surveillance footage after a crime has occurred, Moser explained, so cameras aren’t that helpful.
Uniformed officers patrolling the area are a good deterrent, Moser said, and he will continue to send officers out.
Although he was pleased to hear that most residents are happier with the situation, Moser warned that it is not easy to get rid of prostitution.
Dicum and others in the audience agreed, and some residents noted that the problem now appears to have shifted to Shotwell Street, a block away.
That’s not surprising, Moser said. “When you deal with prostitution, it tends to push that problem out.”
Some residents attending the meeting voiced concern over gang activity in the neighborhood, following a double shooting early in May on Natoma between 14th and 15th streets.
“We’ve worked really hard to make our block safe,” one woman said, adding that an officer told her recently that “it’s heating up right now, keep the kids inside.”
“Keeping my kid inside is not an acceptable answer,” she said.
Moser acknowledged that the area is a known gang corridor and has been for some time. Plainclothes officers are targeting the area, he said.