Missionites be warned: Robberies are up 74 percent this month, police officers now patrol Dolores Park at night, and if you’re thinking of riding your bike on the sidewalk, don’t.
“I can’t explain the robberies,” said Captain Greg Corrales at Tuesday’s monthly meeting at the Mission District police station. Most likely, he said, it’s an aberration — too many of us failing to pay attention as we walk down the street talking on a cellphone that’s snatched away in seconds. The good news is that for the year to date, robberies are up only 2 percent.
No one in the audience of two dozen or so seemed too upset as they nibbled on cookies and listened to the news. The Mission attendees, many of whom Corrales knows by name, trust that he will figure it out. They attend the meetings on the last Tuesday of every month to talk crime and get the latest neighborhood news. On this Tuesday, it was grim. The 22-year-old Hog & Rocks cook who had been shot early that morning was not expected to survive, the captain told them. (He died Wednesday morning.)
Corrales promised a “full-court press” approach to preventing further violence, and called it a “brutal shooting” of an innocent victim. “We have a lot of people out on the streets in anticipation of retaliation.”
“What the hell is wrong with people?” attendee Jan Naftulin mumbled under his breath.
But there is hope. Corrales announced that six motorcycle officers are now assigned to the Mission station. “Yaaaaaaaaaay,” Naftulin quietly cheered.
And since mid-August, night patrols in Dolores Park have been cracking down on vomiting drunks and people blasting music. “Since we started this, we haven’t had any incidents,” Corrales said.
An elderly woman who had been hit by a bicyclist riding on the sidewalk complained that officers aren’t doing enough to prevent similar accidents.
“Take their bikes away,” mumbled Naftulin.
“The U.S. government taught me how to kill,” said another. “I would love to get rid of them.”
Gasps. Heads turn. “Harsh,” one woman hissed.
Corrales said that bicycles are subject to the same restrictions as any moving vehicle, and noted that his six motorcycle cops would be attentive to any bike violations.
Another woman raised her hand to complain about lousy drivers. That, she said, is what officers should be spending their time on. Corrales agreed and added more bad news: The Mission has overtaken the Richmond District as the zone with the highest number of drunk-driving arrests.
“My second squeaky wheel is that Latin America is serving alcohol on the sidewalk,” another man vented. He said the bar’s doorman did nothing to help when he complained about the noise made by patrons.
“Next time, call us,” Corrales said.
“Call me,” Naftulin mumbled.
Corrales regretted having to mention the recent upsurge of robberies in the district. “I’ve had the worst statistics I’ve ever had in the last two months,” he said.
A hand shot up. “How do you measure if you’re doing a good job?”
“We can’t measure the crimes we’ve prevented,” Corrales replied, “but a general rule of thumb for me is that when arrests go up and crimes go down, I’m happy.”
Robberies may be up, but robbery arrests are up, too, he said, thanks in part to the arrests of three men who committed four robberies. The captain is happy.
He said that the stronger police presence will continue for the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and for the Castro Street Fair. “And of course we’re getting ready for Giants playoff games,” Corrales said, followed by laughter from the crowd. “Hey, come on — they’re gonna pull it out.”
The evening ended with the raffle of a mug, Giants tickets and three pens Corrales called “crime-fighter-extraordinaire” pens.
In the end, however, it wasn’t easy for some to forget the violence.
“I live at 25th and Van Ness, and I’ve watched three kids die right in front of me,” said Curtis Guillory, 45, after the meeting. “It’s gotten better. It really has. Which is good, because you don’t want to watch kids bleed in front of you.”