Bay Area/ San Francisco/ Crime & Emergencies
Published on February 10, 2016
Park Station Continues Weed Arrests, Kezar Area Eyed For New Homeless Navigation CenterPark Station Commanding Officer John Sanford, Jr. (Photo: Walter Thompson/Hoodline)

Compared to previous gatherings, last night's Park Station monthly community meeting drew a relatively small crowd and generated little controversy. During the meeting, Capt. John Sanford, Jr. reviewed the latest crime and traffic statistics and efforts to eliminate illegal encampments, and recognized multiple officers who are assigned to the station.

Late in the session, attendees learned that City officials are considering creating a new homeless Navigation Center to serve the Upper Haight's transient population, an issue that was addressed by an aide to D5 Supervisor London Breed.

Park Station received a certificate of appreciation from the Community Police Advisory Board.

Despite a citywide increase in auto thefts and robberies, January saw a slight decline in vehicle crimes across Park District; this year, 26 cars were stolen, as opposed to 35 the year before. The number of auto break-ins also dropped, with 61 in January 2016, compared to 87 in 2015.

There were six robberies in the district in the last month; Sanford said four of the incidents began as shoplifting attempts that escalated into "robberies with force" after suspects were confronted by storekeepers. "Most of these cases aren't people running up to you and sticking you up with a gun, or snatching your purse," said Sanford.

Officers Ryan Crockett and Jeff Sung of the station's Homeless Outreach Team reported that they'd successfully obtained a stay-away order for a man who'd been sleeping in and around Buena Vista Park for more than 10 years. After working with residents to obtain impact letters that were shared with the DA and a judge, the individual was determined to be a public nuisance and has been ordered to steer clear of the area until 2019.

Ofc. Prillinger was named February's Officer of the Month.

Ofc. Elizabeth Prillinger was named Park Station's Officer of the Month for February. Prillinger, who generally patrols the Haight Street corridor on bike and foot, was recently reassigned during Super Bowl 50 to a VIP detail where she drove Jane Skinner, the wife of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and her children. 

Before joining the force, Prillinger earned a BA in Art History from Princeton and an MFA from San Francisco Art Institute, making her the station's de facto artist: her handiwork can be found on posters, Park Station's newsletter, and mugs available for purchase. "Officer Prillinger is a gift to Park Station, and her contribution to the San Francisco Police Department is beyond amazing," said Sanford.

After awarding Prillinger a certificate, Sanford recognized several undercover officers for making drug arrests along Haight in January, noting that the number of people offering marijuana for sale in the area continued to be unacceptable. Even though Sanford said the District Attorney's office refuses to prosecute many of these cases, he stated that officers will continue to arrest suspects who sell pot on Haight.

Prillinger painted faces at a December Park Station children's event.

"They're paying attention to the numerous complaints we constantly receive, mainly from merchants, from visitors and from residents trying to walk down the street and constantly being offered narcotics for sale," said Sanford. "Every time we get those complaints, we try to put the message out that's very simple: it's illegal. You are not allowed to sell drugs on Haight Street," he said.

"Our concern is not what happens long term with the DA, our concern is to stop the behavior, and so even if the DA does not prosecute the case, we will continue to arrest because this is illegal activity," said Sanford, who said street drug sales foster other problems, such as turf battles and violence with weapons.

Near the end of the meeting, an attendee asked Sanford whether he'd heard a rumor that city agencies were considering Kezar Pavilion for the site of a new homeless Navigation Center, similar to one that opened last year in the Mission. Sanford said he hadn't heard of it, but Vallie Brown, an aide to London Breed, said "nothing has been decided."

"We've been looking around," said Brown, who said she and Breed have attended neighborhood meetings where residents asked if a Navigation Center could be created for Haight-Ashbury's homeless population. Although the Kezar gym and adjacent parking lot behind Park Station were floated as potential locations, "we're not going to do it at Kezar," Brown said, "but nothing has been decided," as no funds have been set aside.

"If anything came up that we said 'Hey, this would be a great spot,' then we're going to bring it out to the community to get their concerns, just like what they did in the Mission," said Brown.

The next Park Station community meeting will be on Tuesday, March 8th at 6pm in the station's community room at 1899 Waller St.