There were a couple more salvos in both directions this week from the campaign to recall San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin and those who support him, with each side trying to use arguably shaky numbers to bolster their cases.
In an effort to counter the well-founded claim by the pro-Boudin camp that the recall effort is largely being funded by a Republican donor, the proponents of the recall fired off new polling data Tuesday that suggest 64% of Democratic voters in SF now support the recall.
The poll, conducted in English and Chinese by EMC Research, surveyed 800 registered SF voters by phone, email, and text, as KRON4 reports.
The poll also found that 68% of San Franciscans overall say they support the recall.
Given the easy and often reported talking points about crime in the city going “unpunished,” and the narrative pushed by local TV media that mostly seems to favor the recall proponents, this probably isn’t surprising.
The Boudin camp, meanwhile, publicized a study Tuesday just as this poll data was coming out, putting the onus on the SFPD for city’s woes.
The study, by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice (CJCJ), has the headline “San Franciscans Spend More and Gets Less From Their Police Department Than Most Major California Cities.” It looks at the SFPD’s budget over the last decade against figures like the percentages of crimes cleared (solved), the percent of arrests made per reported offenses, and the cost per city resident for the department’s budget — which was $704 per resident for 2020-21.
Looking at other California cities, the cost per resident for the department is higher only in Los Angeles, but the report suggests that rate of crimes committed per 100,000 residents is far lower in LA, and in all other CA cities with populations over 500,000 — which includes San Diego, Sacramento, San Jose, and Fresno.
Chart via CJCJ
The study also highlights the racial disparities in the arrests made in San Francisco compared to these other cities — citing how the SFPD appears to arrest Black suspects at a much higher rate than “non-Black” suspects, and it suggests the SFPD is the only one of these major-city departments that does not specify in arrest records if a suspect is Hispanic or Latinx.
Mike Males, a senior research fellow with CJCJ and the author of the study, tells KPIX that San Franciscans “get less from the police department in terms of efficiency, in terms of making arrests to clear crimes, in terms of transparency, in terms of providing reliable criminal justice data on what people get arrested for and over arresting of African Americans.”
The SFPD has responded to the study calling it a “PR stunt” and “factually misleading.” A spokesperson for the department highlights the fact that “the scale of tourism in San Francisco relative to the other jurisdictions” in the study makes the cost-per-resident figure misleading, given the millions of tourists to the city also served by the police. The department also cites its homicide clearance rate of 75% as being above the national average.
Males’ group responded to the SFPD’s response, pointing to the department’s lower-than-average clearance rate (nationally) when it comes property crimes. And, the group notes, “SFPD does not dispute our principal findings about its low and declining crime clearance rate, but does hint that if the city just gave them more money, it might help with police performance.”
Two weeks ago, the pro- and anti-Boudin camps released some other warring data about prosecution rates, with Boudin’s camp trying to show that his office is charging and prosecuting cases at a rate very similar to his predecessor and a bit higher than the historical average: 57%. And the pro-recall camp pointed to the rise in pre-trial diversions happening among the cases, versus sending people to jail.
The election deciding whether to recall or not recall DA Chesa Boudin is on June 7.
Previously: SF Recalls Largely Funded by ‘Neighbors for a Better San Francisco’ PAC, Which Is Based in San Rafael