Brooke Jenkins Recall DA Chesa Boudin
Brooke Jenkins, left, seen here with recall chair Mary Jung on election night in June, went from spokesperson for the recall of DA Chesa Boudin to his successor. Photo by Eleni Balakrishnan

9/10 UPDATE: This week, the District Attorney’s office discovered a major error with its public charging dataset. The error created the impression that drug arrests and citations had spiked since District Attorney Brooke Jenkins took office. However, the offices’ revised data shows that both arrests and charges have remained similar to the rates under Chesa Boudin. 

The mistake in the data occurred because of a change to the Superior Court’s case tracking system in June, which led the District Attorney’s office to erroneously include citations in its charging dataset. Before June, this dataset only included arrests.

At publication time, the District Attorney’s office was unaware of the problem. The office fixed this error yesterday.

The new data shows a slight uptick in drug cases being brought before the District Attorney. It also shows that the charging rate for narcotics crime during Jenkins’ tenure so far is 62 percent, which matches Boudin’s average during his time in office.

The original story is below.


In the nearly two months since Brooke Jenkins took over the District Attorney’s office, police brought two to three times as many drug cases to her office as in months prior, according to data from the DA’s office

The overwhelming majority of those cases, however, were not prosecuted by the new DA. 

About two-thirds of the recent narcotics cases presented to the DA’s office have been for misdemeanor offenses like simple drug or paraphernalia possession. Some 99 percent of those cases have been dismissed by Jenkins’ office, sent to another law enforcement agency, or recommended for revoked probation or parole. 

Critics and supporters of Jenkins anticipated a harsher approach to charging and incarceration than under her predecessor, Chesa Boudin. Some critics feared a rekindling of a 1980s and ’90s-style war on drugs. So far, that has not been the case from Jenkins — only from the police. 

Narcotics arrests and citations jumped from 87 in June to 241 in July. But the DA’s office opted to prosecute only 54 cases of those arrested last month; that’s 22 percent. Her predecessor, Boudin, prosecuted 62 percent of the (far fewer) narcotics cases that were presented to his office by police, on average. 

Despite the spike in enforcement by police, the actual number of people prosecuted under Jenkins has stayed about on par with that of Boudin, whose recall Jenkins spearheaded by claiming he was too soft on crime. Most of those prosecuted were for felony drug crimes, such as narcotics sales. 

Drug enforcement has spiked since July.

But in most cases, charges are never brought.

Arrests and citations

Charges not filed

Charges filed

250

200

Jenkins is appointed

150

100

Boudin is elected

50

0

2020

2021

2022

2019

Month

Drug enforcement has spiked

since July. But in most cases,

charges are never brought.

Charges not filed

Charges filed

2019

2020

Boudin is elected

2021

Jenkins is appointed

2022

0

50

100

150

200

250

Arrests and citations

Chart by Will Jarrett. Data from the District Attorney’s Office. Data up to August 28. Includes all individuals who were either charged or discharged; excludes other results.

Boudin faced intense scrutiny throughout his abbreviated term from the public and members of the police department who thought him too lenient. Too often, they said, Boudin set criminals free. Meanwhile, accounts abounded of police standing idly by during unfolding crimes, contributing to rumors of a wildcat strike among officers. 

Those accusations — and loads of outside money — helped fuel the recall effort. 

Jenkins was appointed as interim DA on July 8, one month after Boudin was recalled by voters in the June 7 election. 

Around the same time that Jenkins took office, it appears that police resumed enforcement. In July, the SFPD and other law enforcement presented the DA’s office with 241 narcotics cases, more than the prior three months combined. 

But then, a whopping 68 percent of those cases were discharged.  

Again in August, Jenkins has declined to charge 65 percent of the narcotics cases presented thus far to her office. In contrast, the DA’s office since 2019 — under George Gascón and Boudin — typically discharged 15 percent of narcotics cases. 

Since Jenkins took office, there have been 356 drug arrests/citations in the city.

Around one-third were for felonies, and two-thirds were for misdemeanors.

Charges were brought against 98 felony arrestees (about 79 percent).

But only three people arrested or cited for misdemeanors have faced charges.

Some 209 people accused of misdemeanors were discharged without further action; 20 were referred to other agencies or had their probation or parole revoked.

Alleged misdemeanor narcotics violations, which make up two-thirds of narcotics enforcement since July 8, comprise the majority of discharges under Jenkins’ tenure. 

Jenkins’ office has been presented with 232 misdemeanor narcotics cases since she took office. The three times she filed charges make up 1.3 percent of those cases. 

Over the entire two-and-a-half years he was in office, Boudin received 361 misdemeanor narcotics cases total. He charged 11 of them (3 percent). 

Meanwhile, Jenkins has charged about 79 percent of the 124 felony narcotics arrests presented to her office; often, these cases involve drug sales. Boudin charged at a similar rate: About 74 percent of the felony narcotics arrests sent to his office resulted in charges. 

In a statement to Mission Local, DA spokesperson Randy Quezada emphasized Jenkins’ commitment to holding drug dealers accountable, and filing felony charges when cases are provable beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Quezada said that misdemeanor cases are generally presented to the DA as citations, not arrests, and that these cases are discharged “in the interests of justice.” 

“The DA is not looking to criminalize substance abuse,” Quezada said, but if sufficient violations occur, and “it seems that criminal justice intervention is needed” to get a person into substance abuse treatment, the DA will bundle the cases and file charges.  

When asked about this sharp uptick in arrests, SFPD spokesperson Officer Allison Maxie did not provide a clear explanation. 

“There is a policing role and responsibility to enforce the law and disrupt open-air narcotics dealing and public narcotics usage,” Maxie wrote in a statement to Mission Local. “As a department, we are constantly working to identify crime hotspots, which allows us to be more strategic with our deployments, as well as conduct more effective operations and respond more rapidly to crimes in progress.” 

Maxie said that SFPD officers have made more than 300 narcotics-related arrests in the Tenderloin this year for sales, possession, and use of narcotics in public places. She did not specify when these specific arrests were made. 

For his part, Public Defender Mano Raju said arrests that don’t “hold water in court” are nothing more than “performative policing.” 

He added that policing of narcotics wastes resources that could otherwise go to rehabilitative services, and that arrests can destabilize drug users, putting them at higher risk of overdose when released. 

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REPORTER. Eleni is our reporter focused on policing in San Francisco. She first moved to the city on a whim nearly 10 years ago, and the Mission has become her home. Follow her on Twitter @miss_elenius.

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19 Comments

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  1. “The DA is not looking to criminalize substance abuse,” (unless there are 5 occurrences. THEN the DA will criminalize substance “abuse”)

  2. FIRST OF ALL,
    HOW ARE YOU GOING TO ASK ANYONE TO DONATE!!!???***. I MEAN SERIOUSLY,
    WITH ALL THE $ THAT HAS ALREADY BEEN GIVIN TO THIS CITY FOR THESE TYPES OF THINGS,
    I’M SORRY BUT THAT IS THE MOST ASS BACKWARDS ASS SHIT I’VE HEARD IN QUITE A WHILE. THAT’S THE SHIT THAT IS OUTRIGHT UNHEARD-OF,
    THANK YOU FOR LETTING ME SPEAK MY MIND… BLESSED BE

  3. Cops didn’t just suddenly go out and triple narcotic arrests because their morale got a boost, they focused where they were told to focus.

    Could be Breed thought that, in one big push, she was going to put and end to the reign of criminals who are destroying our city; take steps to be more aggressive with law enforcement, more aggressive with changes in policies, and less tolerant of all the bullshit.

  4. Your analysis is entirely sensitive on the details of this paragraph:

    > About two-thirds of the recent narcotics cases presented to the DA’s office have been for misdemeanor offenses like simple drug or paraphernalia possession. Some 99 percent of those cases have been dismissed by Jenkins’ office, sent to another law enforcement agency, or recommended for revoked probation or parole.

    Of the 99% how many were dismissed compared to those sent to another law enforcement agency, or recommended for revoked parole?

    What does sent to another law enforcement agency mean? Does it mean not charged, dismissed, fine, or what?

    Does revoked parole mean back to jail, saving taxpayers the trial to charge these folks again?

    If 2/3ds of the cases are those, and 99% of those are not counted because you couldn’t pin down their details, that leaves 80 more serious misdemeans and felonies.

    Jenkins prosecuted 22% of 241 or 53 cases, with some number of the 160 cases sent to another law enforce agency or recommended for parole revocation.

    53/80 * 100% = 66% of Boudin equivalent cases were filed.

    Boudin would have charged none of those 160 cases and he charged 62%

    So yes, Jenkins is charging at the same rate as Boudin, not 22% but 66% of Boudin equivalent crimes, PLUS some number you ignored of the 160 misdemeanor cases.

    That latter number represents people being sent to treatment, being sent back to jail, or being dealt with by another agency.

    ALL OF THAT ARE CASES BOUDIN WOULD HAVE LEFT TO FESTER ON THE STREETS.

    One final thing, I know you have a webdev design crew, but they are making bad decisions. Tell whoever designed the graphics on this page, with the huge amount of scrolling needed that that scrolling is ableist and also hurts the readability of this page.

    Please just give us the numbers, all the numbers, and none of the trendy webby graphics that look good on an iPad but are hard to use on small phones and on desktops.

    1. >”Some 209 people accused of misdemeanors were discharged without further action; 20 were referred to other agencies or had their probation or parole revoked.”

      @Jay – Above is info from the scroll through data points you were having trouble viewing. If data is your thing (it’s not), then also be aware there is an embedded link at the end if the first paragraph which will allow you to view all the numbers.

      1. thanks RL E, though I fail to understand your need to be a jerk about that, feel free to enlighten me where that was coming from

  5. Campers,

    It means a couple of things.

    First, it means that we have just lived thru a mini era of cops sitting upon their derrieres drinking coffee and eating donuts.

    Turns out the SFPD performance is poor no matter who is DA.

    I could turn them around.

    Any capable experienced manager of Behavior in a target force could.

    You simply have to have an elected Chief with the power to directly put his inherited bad apples on the ballot.

    Camden, New Jersey did it by giving every member of their force and staff applications to fill out for their own jobs along with a targeted pay check cycle.

    Camden ended up hiring back 80% of their force and now complaints of cop thuggery and dishonesty are near zero.

    Just need to get Supes to put it on the ballot.

    I asked Waltham about it at Manny’s and he said he was opposed because:

    “What if the person we elect is bad ??”

    So, the President of the SF BOS doesn’t trust the voters ??

    The idea’s not even mine, it’s from retired 32 years w/out a complaint, Sheriff Michael Hennessey.

    The fact that SFPD can do a Work Stoppage w/out repercussions means that basically they are holding Public Safety hostage until the electorate does what they want in the matter of DA.

    Gonna be interesting to see where POA comes down on this one.

    Hamasaki for DA !!

    Go Niners !!

    h.

  6. So, what you’re really saying is that she is prosecuting 79% of the felony cases that were presented to her. That sounds like a pretty good stat.

  7. Maybe I’m not reading well enough between the lines, but if the implication is that Jenkins is not doing enough on misdemeanor drug charges, well, that’s just bad math. If she’s prosecuted 3 misdemeanors in 2 months, the trend would be 45 vs. Boudin’s 11 over 2.5 years. That sounds pretty good. The reference to of percentage (what percentage of arrests get prosecuted may be relevant to some questions, but not the ones discussed in the article.) that obscure the actual numbers is poor reporting, I think. The trend looks good!

  8. Looks like the SFPD were capable of doing much more while Boudin was in office and just chose to do less work. It’s not surprising people have lost confidence in them.

    1. > Looks like the SFPD were capable of doing much more while Boudin was in office and just chose to do less work. It’s not surprising people have lost confidence in them.

      I think SFPD sucks in how they respond and what they ignore, but Chesa declared he would not prosecute quality of living crimes, and that’s what most misdemeanor drug offenses are.

      So if you are SFPD and you are told the DA will not prosecute the misdemeanors, why are you arresting these people, harassing them, and wasting your own time, instead of going after more serious crimes in the city?

      Now as I said, I think SFPD sucks, and it seems clear they weren’t going after more serious crimes, but regardless, there was zero reason to arrest people when told ahead of time their crimes would not be prosecuted

      1. So if you are SFPD and you see that the new DA is not actually prosecuting the misdemeanors at a rate much higher than the previous DA, why are you arresting these people, harassing them, and wasting your own time, instead of going after more serious crimes in the city?

  9. “In the nearly two months since Brooke Jenkins took over the District Attorney’s office…”

    Really? You’re going to jump to conclusions after two months? DA Jenkins is still getting her office in order.

    It’s also worth noting the huge increase in narcotics arrests? Could it be that Boudin completely disenfranchised the SFPD? It appears that that is a distinct possibility.

  10. From the graph it looks like the police want to police for this DA, and that makes a huge difference. I liked Chesea Boudin but I feel the police did not, and the police need to do their work for our city to function.

    1. Now charge the misdemeanors and get them treatment – anywhere even if it means shipping them to another county or state. We need to be focused on preventing overdose deaths and letting everyone do drugs is killing people. I know too many people personally who have overdosed this decade because of harm reduction policies.

    2. That theory seems like a reason to fire all those police and horse other ones, yeah? You don’t get to not do your job because you don’t like the administration and expect to keep that job, yeah?

  11. Sounds like Jenkins is doing a great job. She’s charging drug dealers with felonies — which Friend of the Cartel Boudin would not do — while letting misdemeanors go.

    If only she were Chesa Boudin you would be praising her for this. Alas, she is a black and Latina woman and not Chesa Boudin, so you are not praising her for this.