Editor’s note: This column is one of a weekly series of conversations with District 9 Supervisor David Campos addressing issues and events in the Mission. If you have questions for Campos, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mission Local: There was a rash of deadly crime in the Mission over the weekend and more recently on Wednesday night. What’s going on in the neighborhood?
David Campos: There was a shooting and I was at the scene. Prior to that, something happened on Saturday and we’re not sure if there is a connection between the two. There’s always a fear that a shooting could lead to retaliation.
From the last few weeks, I have requested that the captain and the chief of police increase the number of officers assigned to Mission Station, and they have done that at my request.
We increased that number even more after the incident that happened on Saturday. Yesterday, in light of what happened, they increased it even more.
And I’ve been in communication with the captain and chief throughout this, and they have sent resources from other parts of the city to the Mission to make sure we have the right level of presence by police.
We are also working with violence prevention workers. We [had] a meeting with Mission Community Peace Collaborative … to talk about what we can do as a community [ed. note: Mission Local covered the Thursday meeting here]. As the police themselves will tell you, they cannot do it alone.
We need the community to come together as well. We take this very seriously. All of the resources of the city that can go to the Mission are going into the Mission, to make sure we can make our neighborhood as safe as possible.
ML: It was just reported that there was also a drive-by shooting Wednesday night. What happened?
DC: There were shots fired at a police car. We’re not sure if it was connected to what happened.
I did speak to the chief of police about that. They’re investigating that. What this means is that we need to have a higher level of alert by police.
Unfortunately, from time to time this spike happens, and we have to be proactive and we have to respond to it as quickly as we can.
ML: Why do you think there is a crime spike now?
DC: I have seen ups and downs in terms of this. When I came into office … if you look into numbers in terms of incidents of violence, the numbers are actually going down. The neighborhood is safer now than it was before. There are times when something happens when one incident in turn may lead to another incident.
In this case, it seems that the incidents are gang-related. We have to monitor the situation very closely. It’s not known exactly … why one incident happens at a given time. But we know from history that one leads to another.
ML: What are some ways you’re addressing the violence?
DC: I actually am a strong [advocate] of community policing. If it’s done right, they have a larger presence in terms of walking foot beats. [There’s] also violence prevention workers. You have to do both. One of things that happened [with] the Board of Supervisors is that we have increased the number of Police Academy classes.
We know that some [officers] are retiring, and we [want to] make sure we keep up the numbers. I have always advocated for more staffing at Mission Station. At my request, it has increased over the years. I think we can have more.
ML: Can you give more specific examples of how you, the police and the city are “being more proactive”?
DC: We’re increasing the number of officers out there, [there are] a number of foot patrols walking a beat, we’re increasing the number of violence prevention workers, making sure that we engage members of the community and engaging other agencies like the housing authorities and parks and rec to make sure they are doing a fair share in terms of providing resources.
One of the things we started one year ago — to be proactive … so that we’re not just responding, but trying to prevent incidences — is working with two officers, [Officer] Cathey and [Officer] Sands. We have been working with them and my office to identify young people who have gotten in trouble before and who are in the gang life, if you will, and with those who are willing to change their lives. We have worked with them to find them jobs.
We have about eight of them that used to be on the streets, getting in trouble, who are now working. That has had a significant impact … now that they are in the process of changing their lives.
We’re looking for more and trying to allocate more resources. It’s been a collaborative effort. This is something that no one else is doing in the city.
ML: Can the police handle these incidents alone? Have you considered working with State Attorney General Kamala Harris or the FBI?
DC: The way that it works is that within the city, you have resources that are assigned to each station. There are resources from other [stations] deployed to help that station [when needed]. I would encourage you to talk to the chief because they collaborate with state and federal agencies.
I can tell you what we have done in the last few years is that we have made sure that we have not just a robust police presence but also robust violence prevention workers. Their work is very important. It’s proactive work that deals with a situation before something actually happens to … prevent, not just react. Those workers are working very closely with the police department.
There are a number of organizations that do [violence prevention] and they have a number of workers…. When proposals have been made to cut that funding, we have advocated for that funding to be restored.
The Mission Community Response Network is instrumental in … working around the clock anytime an incident happens to help the police to be a liaison to the community, to the families of the victims, to neighbors. And they work with other organizations in the neighborhood to make sure we work with young people to make sure they stay out of trouble.
There are groups like HOMEY that are part of Mission Community Peace Collaborative, a compilation of organizations that work together on community peace.
ML: Besides these random spikes of violence, petty crime happens every day, and at times in broad daylight. How are you working to address everyday crime?
DC: We have been very proactive about that. We have been working with the captain to monitor trends we see and to allocate resources to address those trends.
Why some of these crimes have gone down is because of the proactive response: more foot beats, patrol officers, but also undercover officers doing work.
We want to deal with all kinds of crimes. We take that seriously. We believe we have made progress.