Police foot patrols to double in Bayview by November

Bayview Station Captain Raj Vaswani holds the station's monthly community meeting. Photo by Julian Mark.

This is part of an effort to Cover the Police — a collaboration with the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism to look at how the police operate in the Mission District and elsewhere in the city.

Bayview Station Captain Raj Vaswani said at a Tuesday community meeting at the Bayview Station that he would double foot patrols in the Bayview by November.  

Police Chief William Scott recently announced that the police department would nearly double the number foot patrols citywide to more than 100. A good number of those will go to the Mission District, where foot patrols will quadruple in the next week.

Vaswani, who worked as a lieutenant at Mission Station in the mid-2000s, said the Bayview currently deploys four foot-patrol officers. He said that number would increase within the next week, and would increase even more in November. Vaswani said he needs time to choose the right officers for the right spots.

“I just don’t want to stick anyone in that slot,” he said.

The captain said he will be placing two officers on San Bruno Avenue, four to six officers on 3rd Street and two officers in Potrero Hill. He said he is still working on scheduling, but he will definitely deploy officers during evening commuting hours.

Vaswani said there were no foot patrols in Potrero Hill when he joined Bayview Station three years ago. He tried several different foot patrol officers for the neighborhood, but it has taken some time to find the right officer for the neighborhood. That officer is now permanent and will be joined by another in November.

“The key component to finding the right foot patrol officers is someone who wants to do it and has a good personality — kind of like a social butterfly,” he said. “Every person they connect with is another eye and ear for the police department.”  

The beat areas Vaswani described were fairly consistent with those listed in a 2006 report on community policing. Then, foot patrols were deployed in two sections on the Third Street corridor, the San Bruno corridor and a third zone comprising Potrero Hill, “Hunter’s View” and West Brook. The report also listed two “district-wide” zones, which Vaswani didn’t mention.

But Vaswani said he wanted to see more overlap in the beat areas.

“Ideally, if I had my way, I would have foot beats overlapping,” he said. “Third Street should be an overlap foot beat, but it’s currently divided between one side of the watch to the other, [and they] only overlap some days.”

Vaswani also explained that because the Bayview has what he estimated to be 28 percent of the city’s public housing developments, he currently deploys some 14 “housing officers,” whichoften act like community police and foot patrols.

“They go out on foot every day, do a lot of community events, so they’re kind of like a foot patrol,” he said.

“But they don’t get reflected as a foot patrol,” he added, explaining that traditional foot patrols only cover retail corridors.    

He said he’ll be adding two more housing officers by November.

The announcement, mixed in with a recap of Bayview Station’s progress on August’s major crimes in the area, was met with little reaction from the crowd of 11 attendees.

“I haven’t had a lot of experience [with beat patrols],” said Melodie, who has been attending Bayview Station community meetings since 2009 but who declined to give her last name. “But it makes a lot of sense to have officers interact with the local community. They can get a better grasp on crime.”

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