By Jane West
Sheriff Vicki Hennessy was the special guest at a July 26 neighborhood meeting in Golden Gate Heights hosted by Stop Crime SF. Sheriff Hennessy is the first woman to hold the position of sheriff in San Francisco history. She is also the only elected law enforcement official in San Francisco (the police chief is appointed by the mayor). Sheriff Hennessy talked about her background and gave us insightful information about our jails, the criminal justice system and neighborhood crime.
She acknowledged that San Francisco has the highest rate of auto and home burglaries of any large city in the nation. We learned that nine percent of those arrested and out on pretrial release get caught committing more crimes. Not factored in were those that are not caught. Court probation for criminals means no supervision at all.
We also learned that 35 percent fail to show up for court and no statistics are available on how many get bench warrants. We asked questions about data not being available. Sheriff Hennessy told us that for the past decade, San Francisco has been unable to write a program to collect data that reports the following in one central place: how many people are arrested, charged, let go, incarcerated, how many re-offend, or how many are from out of town. This left us wondering how it's possible that all this data is entered into different computers but the City is unable to retrieve all the data in one place?
Some good news: Sheriff Hennessy reported the San Francisco Police Department is now almost fully staffed.
As a group, we discussed requesting a public safety hearing through Supervisor Norman Yee’s office, asking for data from each public safety department: Probation, Police, Sheriff, D.A. and Public Defender.