Recent incidents of robberies and violence in Duboce Triangle have residents looking for answers from police and city officials. Accordingly, last night’s DTNA meeting at CPMC was almost entirely focused on the issue of crime in the area.
SFPD Park Station Captain Raj Vaswani addressed the packed room, but was unable to release any further information about the recent shooting death of Michael Marquez on November 24th. He reported that police were looking for any further evidence from either personal or public video footage. One resident asked him what he thought the chances that either that murder, or the brutal beating death of Bryan Higgins back in August, would be solved.
“I can tell you the [Higgins] case is still active ... and the people investigating it don’t want me to speak about it,” replied Captain Vaswani. “As for the other case, I don’t want to speculate.”
In terms of prevention, Vaswani has been deploying more officers to Duboce Triangle whenever possible, and he urges residents to always be mindful of their surroundings. He pointed out that criminals often target victims traveling to and from clubs and restaurants, since they are more likely to be wearing nicer jewelry and carrying other valuables. He also urged people to avoid using cell phones while walking alone at night.
Lastly, Vaswani encouraged residents to invest in personal cameras outside of their homes, due to the fact that footage from such devices can often help apprehend criminals in certain cases.
Next, Morgan St. Clair, a representative from the SF-based non-profit group SAFE (Safety Awareness for Everyone), encouraged residents to set up Neighborhood Watch programs on their blocks. Once contacted, SAFE will send a representative to aid in the creation of a watch group and coordinate involvement with local law enforcement. If you're interested in getting involved, contact SAFE at (415) 553-1984 or email them at info [at] sfsafe [dot] org.
Members of the CCOP
Members of the CCOP (Castro Community on Patrol) also addressed the group and urged interested parties to volunteer for their patrol team. Trained volunteers are expected to commit to at least one three-hour patrol per month.
CCOP's Chief of Patrol also announced the launch of a program called Castro Cares which, according to its pamphlet, is “a coalition of neighborhood groups, businesses, and social service and city programs coming together to improve the quality of life for both those living on the street and and for those who live, work, shop and play in the Castro/Upper Market district.” The program is extensive, and includes the involvement of both community outreach workers and an additional police presence. For more info, they can be reached at (415) 500-1181 or info [at] castrocbd [dot] org.
Near the end of the meeting, Supervisor Scott Wiener spoke to residents as well. He highlighted some things he was doing to actively address crime in the neighborhood, including his commitment to eliminating the roughly 300-person staffing deficit the SFPD is facing, as well as working with the SF Public Utilities Commission to increase funding for improving street lights in areas such as Duboce Triangle.
When asked what else is being done to address crime in the area, Wiener replied, "I do not think that Duboce Triangle has gotten the attention it needs. Captain Vaswani has increased police presence. Also, Captain McEachern from the Northern Station has created a new foot beat for the area around the Safeway and going north into the Lower Haight."
Whether the stated focus on increased patrols and additional attention to the area will result in fewer incidents remains to be seen. In the meantime, and as always, be mindful and keep your wits about you when walking through the area after dark.
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