Stats prompt SFPD to assist City College

By Alex Emslie and Estela Fuentes
The Guardsman

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Ingleside officers have been conducting undercover “sting” operations at Ocean campus since January due to the new requirement that local police departments answer for crime statistics in their district.

Property crimes at Ocean campus totaled 35 for March, Ingleside Station Captain Louis Cassanego said, and accounted for 27 percent of the Ingleside district’s total.

“Since City College is part of the Ingleside district, their statistics add on to ours,” Cassanego said. “That’s why it’s a big concern for us.”

Under the new system, officials from each station attend monthly meetings where “the chief puts the captains on a hot seat,” grilling them about statistical increases or decreases, San Francisco Police Department Sgt. James Miller said.

CompStat, a program initiated five months ago by SFPD Chief George Gascón, collects crime statistics from reports generated all over the city. Police officials then analyze the data and use it to deploy patrols more efficiently. CompStat emphasizes quick and thorough investigations, accountability, and consideration of social issues that affect crime, according to the SFPD website.

Miller, who leads the Ingleside Station Special Problems Unit in charge of the undercover operations on Ocean campus, estimated a 75 percent drop in property crimes since his unit began conducting stings at City College.

“It’s not just collecting the data, it’s doing stuff with the data,” Miller said of CompStat, adding that SFPD is trying to be more proactive in responding to crime trends using data collected by officers over the years.

Though it’s new to San Francisco, CompStat has been effectively used by other metropolitan police departments for more than a decade. The New York City Police Department pioneered the program in the mid-90s and experienced a dramatic drop in crime.

Armed or assault-type robberies near Ocean campus have greatly diminished after violent crimes spiked approximately two years ago, City College Police Officer Rachele Hakes said. SFPD aided City College police in bringing those violent crimes under control.

“There are very few forced break-ins,” Miller said. “Violent crime, cross our fingers, is at a minimum there. It’s almost non-existent.”

A summary analysis of City College’s crime logs given to the Ingleside Problem Solving Unit confirmed what Miller already suspected: Most property crimes on campus are crimes of opportunity.

‘Everything comes back to money’

The City College Police Department had attempted its own undercover operations before the beginning of the spring semester when Ingleside officers started taking a more active role on campus, but they were unsuccessful.

“It takes three to five officers to handle a sting operation,” Hakes said, adding that at times as few as three City College officers are on duty. “So we’re relying on Ingleside to step in and pick up where we can’t do it.”

Third successful Ingleside police undercover operation at Ocean campus nets suspect

Plain-clothed San Francisco Police Department officers arrested a City College student in connection with the theft of a laptop from the fourth floor of the Rosenberg Library on April 20 at 2:33 p.m.

The arrest of Tyler Soohoo, 21, was the result of the third successful undercover operation conducted by Ingleside Station officers on Ocean campus.

The officers observed Soohoo take the laptop and walk out of the building. Officers arrested him outside the library.

Soohoo was booked for theft from a building.

He did not confess to any other crimes on campus. He does, however, have a pending case with SFPD for theft from a vehicle in the Park Merced area on March 7.

While reducing crime stats attributed to their district was the main impetus for Ingleside’s more active role on Ocean campus, Hakes said City College budget constraints were also a factor.

“Everything comes back to money,” she said. “Training, hiring more officers, any kind of overtime to handle special details and stuff like that.”

City College PD is operating with minimal staffing because of unfilled positions, medical and military leaves, said Hakes, who doubles as one of the departments two public information officers.

Other officers are shouldering administrative duties like compliance with the Clery Act, a federal law requiring educational institutions to report campus crime in a timely manner.

“Right now, everybody’s budgets within the college are pretty frozen,” Hakes said. “We have very little as far as equipment and supply budgets.”

While a poor economy is impacting the college’s public safety budget, Cassanego doesn’t believe it is driving up crime.

“In general, a bad economy does not drive people to commit crime,” he said. “Criminals are just criminals.”

Ingleside officers are currently analyzing the summary of crime reports from City College PD and looking for ways to make the Ocean campus location safer.

“The unfortunate thing is that, by the time we get this whole thing finalized, the school year will be ending,” Miller said. “But when we start anew next school year, Ingleside Police Department and City College Police Department should be much better prepared to deal with that criminal activity.”

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