Have you noticed fewer cops in the neighborhood?
Chalk it up to a "mass retirement" experienced by the San Francisco Police Department last year, according to police officers with whom we've spoken. The result is that some districts, including Park Station near Upper Haight, have been understaffed in recent months as the Department works to train new recruits.
“Last I heard, Park Station has 67 positions filled out of the 90 at capacity," Officer Alaric Wu told us via a phone interview this week. "We're just waiting for trainees to get transferred over to us.”
Officers from the station have also told some Hoodline readers that there have been even fewer officers working from the station recently—53 at one point last month, for example.
"New recruits are coming," Wu added. "But it’s seven weeks [of training] at the police academy, then six weeks in the field. Once they finish, some of them will come out to Park Station."
The station doesn't provide recruits with field training immediately after the academy "because we don’t have the demographics, and we have fewer calls," he explained "Officers here are usually veterans—I’ve been here for 10 years, for example."
It's unclear if crime rates have been affected by the temporarily reduced police presence. Burglaries, car break-ins, vandalism, and complaints over transient encampments in Buena Vista Park have certainly popped up recently, but these sorts of issues have been present for many years. We're still looking for statistics that could better illustrate recent activity in the area.
Officers say that even with the reduced numbers, the station has still been able to function effectively.
"Park Station has staffing challenges," Captain Greg Corrales told us by email last month, "as does every other station in the City. We do have sufficient staffing to accomplish our mission."
For readers wondering how the staffing numbers might impact the policing of major area events, note that the station also requests additional units from other districts and units.
That's the plan for 4/20 in Golden Gate Park, coming up in a couple weeks. The unofficial marijuana celebration drew up to 100,000 people last year, resulting in traffic snarls, large amounts of litter, and other side effects. Officers at a Park Station community meeting on Tuesday evening told the audience they expected similar attendance this year, and were asking for maximum support from the Department.
Whether or not the city meets the requests, the officers are determined to "be prepared for whatever 4/20 brings in."
Larger changes are also coming to the Department that may impact Park Station. A plan is in the works to redraw the police district lines in order to better cover the city's growing population. It's still in the early stages, with stations continuing to consider where those boundaries might belong.
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