Photograph courtesy of D.C. Atty

Violent crime, including assaults, robberies and homicides, decreased slightly in the Mission this year, while shootings and property theft increased, according to data from the Mission police station.

While numbers from this year are not much different than last year’s, they are a big improvement from 2008. Mission Station is also in charge of patrolling the Castro and the northwestern part of Noe Valley.

The decrease for this year shows that crime has stabilized, according to Captain Greg Corrales, who heads Mission Station.

“We are going in the right direction,” Corrales said. “We are never satisfied. Even though it was not a huge reduction, every time there is less crime, it’s encouraging.”

Violent crime decreased by 5 percent, to 533 incidents this year from 559 in 2009.

The number of reported personal theft incidents has been steadily increasing, however — to 1,984 this year from 1,440 in 2008, an increase of 37 percent.

Some of the increase is due to the ability of victims to file police reports online, a service police began offering in 2004, Corrales said.

Increase in Shootings

Shootings are the highest they have been in the past three years. There were 15 shootings in 2008, 13 last year and 20 this year — a 54 percent increase from last year.

Corrales said the increase is not too alarming.

“It’s not very many. Certainly we want zero. It’s not bad, particularly when robberies are down, aggravated assaults are down. Looking at the big picture, we are very happy with the results of this year.”

Shootings Fueled by Drug Turf War

The shootings were partly fueled by a conflict between several residents of Bernal Dwellings who are fighting with Norteño gang members over drug turf, Corrales said.

Several people who used to live at Bernal Dwellings (formerly known as the Army Street projects) returned and continued to sell drugs, Corrales said. This caused conflict with Norteños who have now claimed control of Garfield Park.

In the span of three weeks in November, one man was killed, another was stabbed in broad daylight and three others were shot.

“We are giving this a lot of attention,” said Corrales.

After these incidents, community members organized a peace rally at the mural on Capp and 24th streets where the faces of black leaders were painted over with white paint.

A source at Bernal Dwellings, which is predominantly black, quickly pointed out that no one from the projects was there or even wanted to go.

Domestic Violence Leads to Violent Deaths

Mission police recorded six murders this year — two more than last year, but lower than the 18 recorded in 2008. Five were in the Mission; the sixth was in the Castro.

Three of those deaths occurred in single-room occupancy hotels. One “mysterious” death was ruled a homicide, and in another one, prosecutors declined to file murder charges. There had been no murders in SROs in the past two years.

Corrales said these incidents were caused by domestic disputes.

“This type of homicide is virtually impossible to prevent,” Corrales said. “A domestic dispute in a hotel, there is very little to do. Hopefully the social services are dealing with those domestic violence issues.”

Drugs and Prostitution

Corrales, 62, returned as captain of Mission Station in November of 2009. He said then that his biggest priorities for this year were drugs and prostitution.

Police statistics showed that reported instances of sex crimes, which include prostitution, increased by 8 percent, from 65 incidents last year to 70 this year. Arrests for these kinds of crimes decreased by 13 percent, from 38 last year to 33 this year.

Reported drug violations decreased modestly, to 797 instances this year from 880 last year, and arrests decreased to 904 this year from 1,133 last year.

Rigoberto Hernandez

Rigoberto Hernandez is a journalism student at San Francisco State University. He has interned at The Oregonian and The Orange County Register, but prefers to report on the Mission District. In his spare...

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