While some residents point to a disconcerting amount of violence in the Mission District, there’s been a slight downward trend in shootings and gun violence in the neighborhood, according to two year’s worth of data from the San Francisco Police Department at Mission Station. CompStat reports covering the Mission show a downturn in shooting incidents and shooting victims from January 2012 to June 2014. This year the number of gunshot incidents hovers around three episodes per month, with as many as six incidents in June and only one in February.
Despite this decrease, it’s unclear whether the threat of gun violence overall has been reduced. Based on Mission Local’s analysis of SFPD annual reports and crime maps, incidents involving a gun being brandished or fired—crimes like street robberies involving a gun, firearm discharges, attempted muggings with a gun—are just slightly lower this year. The period from January to July of 2013 saw 74 such incidents. This year there were only 68, but the rate of incidents has not seen a steady decrease.
Several business owners along 24th Street reported feeling threatened by gang-affiliated newcomers. One store owner said they now close earlier in the day to avoid them. A woman who owns a store on 24th Street reported a sharp decrease in gang member presence after the city implemented an injunction against gang members, but that new threatening individuals have taken their place.
Tracking the number of shootings in the Mission is complex. The SFPD and Department of Emergency Management (DEM) use an automated gunshot detection system called ShotSpotter, which is triggered by loud noises and calibrated to filter out similar sounds like car backfires and firecrackers. The ShotSpotter system detected 80 shots fired in the Mission so far this year—however the Mission Station recorded only 15 shots-fired incidents.
The disparity comes in part from the fact that Mission Station records only incidents where officers responded and found evidence of shots fired, like shells or broken windows, said Officer Albie Esparza, an SFPD spokesperson. The difference in numbers may also reflect occasional inaccuracies of the ShotSpotter system, for instance when a loud noise does manage to trick the system, according to DEM spokesman Francis Zamora. ShotSpotter data also reflects shots fired in the 94110 ZIP code, not all of which falls under Mission Station’s jurisdiction.
Supervisor Malia Cohen recently introduced legislation to create a task force to address the city’s gun violence. The task force would include representatives from the city’s Human Services Agency, police department, school district and Department of Public Health, and the proposed goal would be to identify youth at risk of becoming offenders and removing illegal weapons from the community.
Leslie Nguyen-Okwu contributed to the reporting of this article.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that gun-related crimes had increased by 44 percent from last year, while in fact the number has decreased slightly. The error was caused by the accidental inclusion of some incidents involving a knife. A graph and the sentence have been changed to reflect this correction.