letter to the editor

Letter to the Editor: Questioning Engardio’s Column’s Assertions


Joel Engardio’s latest column contains numerous distortions and unsupportable assertions.

First of all, it is necessary to realize that economic and social inequality have much to do with the crimes against property that constitute the vast majority of arrests in San Francisco.

Gangs fighting gangs at Stonestown are likely a one-time phenomenon, as were the mass thefts at Union Square. We need to investigate the causes of this violence and need to deal with it. In the first case we should have identified the children involved and have had a social worker visit their parents. In the second case, stationing police to hang out in Union Square daily on an annual basis is a complete waste of money. Police need to find the perpetrators of these thefts. As with the theft of frames from eyeglass stores, and the sometimes violent removal of catalytic converters from cars, there are resellers involved. Why is it that investigators are not arresting the drug sellers’ suppliers or higher ups in theft rings?

One reason police have a hard time attracting workers is the same reason that we have a hard time attracting school teachers. While $103,116 for new hires is a huge chunk of change (and twice the $53,143 entry-level teachers receive), it is still not sufficient for our officers to raise a family here. This is also why many police do not reside in the communities they represent.

As far as putting more police on the streets goes, apparently past D-4 supervisors do not appear to have been successful in advocating for more cops. Engardio maintains that “a number of city supervisors have called for defunding or even disbanding the San Francisco police department in recent years.” Can he please name these supervisors?

And, given the fact that the SFPD has cut down at least 58 individuals here since 2000 (according to Mission Local), many of whom were mentally ill and/or unhoused, can he clearly explain why he is against redirecting spending towards more crime-circumventing social services? Activists and others routinely dispute that the police always do “good work” and that “SFPD is a model of reform.” Its particular “culture” does not appear to be changing, here or elsewhere. Nor have Supervisor Engardio’s pro-incarceration views moderated.

Time for both the police and the supervisor to have a rethink. Our present lock-em-up-and-forget-em system has failed.

Harry S. Pariser

Engardio’s commentary:

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