Some 16 people met Tuesday at Mission Station’s monthly community meeting and discussed community, displacement and what one resident called local “knuckleheads.”
Mission Station Captain Daniel Perea started the meeting announcing a drop in robberies as well as a demand for more traffic enforcement. Already he’s on the latter, he said.
Blue Williams, the program manager at Determined to Respect and Encourage African-American Men (DREAAM), brought up an incident involving two members of DREAAM, both African-American males, and an officer. One of the men had been smoking in Jane Warner Plaza, located on Market and 17th streets in the Castro.
“They handcuffed him, ran his license, just for smoking a cigarette, which seems like a bit much,” said Williams.
“Within that space there are certain rules and one of them is no smoking,” said Perea, who went on to explain that the station has received a “boatload” of complaints regarding various activities at the Jane Warner Plaza.
Greg Carey, the chief of patrol for the Castro Community on Patrol, a neighborhood watch group, offered Williams his take.
“Just so you’re aware,” he said. “It’s not targeting, the smoking is an offense, so everyone that is smoking there is going to get a citation.”
“Well, okay, hopefully that will be true,” Williams said.
Another gentleman, who spoke to the group in Spanish, wanted to know if Perea could give citation powers to the members of neighborhood watch groups who witness crimes in progress including graffiti, littering, and public intoxication.
“The good news is, we don’t have to organize anyone, because we’re already set, all that we ask is that you call the non-emergency number,” said Perea. (The number is 415-553-0123)
Perea said the neighborhood watch programs are extremely helpful in reporting suspicious behavior and if there were more community groups “the patrol would be above and beyond.”
“Is it just me or are we getting more broken windows, are we getting more homeless, are we getting more knuckleheads?” asked a resident from the Castro.
In response, Perea said that his officers are actively using crime mapping and crime stats to investigate trends and that officers are “mindful” of crime spikes. He also said that the calls for service in the area are non-stop, and that the need for community involvement is key.
So how should community members handle those “knuckleheads” who are in the area, asked the same resident.
Debbie, a frequent visitor of the Mission Station’s meetings, shot back: “You are a knucklehead! He said to call the non-emergency number for all that stuff.”
Brian Hill, deputy chief of patrol for the Castro Community on Patrol, said calling the number is “not satisfying.”
“Citywide I’ve never seen the street population as substantial as it is,” he added.
“It’s going to get worse as rents increase,” added another member of the community.
“This is a city with a lot of services and there are people that are here to use those services. I’m not passing judgment but it is what it is,” said Perea.