San Francisco football fans aren’t the only ones gearing up for Sunday’s Super Bowl XLVII between the 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens.
The police department is ready to deal with the crowds of people who will likely pour into the streets of San Francisco following the pigskin matchup – whether rejoicing or crying.
After the San Francisco Giants clinched the World Series title last fall, celebrations in the streets of downtown San Francisco turned dangerous. People swung from traffic lights and ignited fireworks in the middle of Mission and Valencia streets. As the night progressed, dumpsters were set ablaze, cars were flipped over and businesses in the Mission District vandalized.
“Traditionally, this is where people come to celebrate,” said SFPD Capt. Robert Moser following a monthly community meeting at the Mission police station on Tuesday.
The department is increasing police presence across the city on Sunday evening, but “a significant amount” of resources are being directed specifically to the Mission District, Moser said.
Police will be stationed along all of the major traffic corridors in the Mission, including 16th, 24th, Mission and Valencia streets. Traffic will not be allowed along Mission and Valencia following the game. Vehicles traveling along Cesar Chavez will be rerouted north to Guerrero Street, Moser said.
Law enforcement officers will also conduct alcohol compliance checks in downtown bars and other venues serving alcohol during the game, he said.
The raucous street action following the World Series victory culminated with multiple fires burning in the streets. In one case, a Muni bus was set on fire.
Most of the fires were started with trash from garbage cans and dumpsters. To help avoid that problem, garbage crews will add routes Sunday morning in various locations around the Bay Area, including along Mission Street.
Overall crime was down in mid-December, Moser reported at Tuesday night’s meeting. From Dec. 16 to Jan. 12, both property crimes and violent crimes decreased by 27 percent. As a result, arrests were also down, he said.
Still, a rash of recent robberies along the southwestern edge of the Mission drew concerned citizens to the meeting. A local neighborhood-watch group consisting of residents along Elizabeth Street coordinated efforts to attend the meeting and share their experiences in recent weeks.
“People are feeling so unsafe even to walk to the corner store,” said Raquel Andreatta, a local resident.
Patty Escobar told of driving her 22-year-old daughter to the 24th and Mission BART station at 6 each morning so she can get to her new job at the airport. On Tuesday, Escobar’s daughter called on her way home, at 5:30 p.m., to tell her about a masked man walking near the BART station who was making her nervous. She was too scared to walk by him.
“I watched this guy look my daughter up and down as she got into the car,” Escobar said. “It freaked me out.”
Moser told the concerned mother to call the police in a case like that.
“But you don’t feel comfortable pulling out your phone” near the 24th Street BART station, said Lani Kapur, who lives in the neighborhood and noted there has been an increase recently in the number of cell phone street robberies. “I don’t feel safe until I’m inside my house.”
Violent crime, especially robberies, is up in this part of the Mission, which Moser agreed is unusual.
At the back of the small community meeting room was a black-and-white rendering of a man police believe is a suspect in an attempted sexual assault on Jan. 6 at 23rd Street near Church.
The suspect is described as an Asian or Hispanic man about 25 years old, 160 pounds and 5 feet, 10 inches tall with a buzz haircut and a slight beard growth. A photo of the forensic sketch is posted on the police department’s website, www.sanfranciscopolice.org.
Detectives are investigating the crimes that have recently occurred in this neighborhood, said Moser, and he urged residents to call 911 if they witness a crime or believe a crime is about to occur.