By Michele Hanisee
A “freelance journalist,” who we shall spare the indignity of naming publicly, recently penned a commentary accusing District Attorney Jackie Lacey and her “surrogates” of “smearing” George Gascón. Why? Because the ADDA has repeatedly argued that Gascón’s prosecution policies as San Francisco DA, as well as his being a leading proponent of Prop 47, helped fuel a rise in property crime in San Francisco and across California.
Of course, it is a fact that during Gascón’s time as District Attorney San Francisco had by far the highest property crime rate in California. In 2018, it earned the dubious distinction of having the highest property crime rate in the entire United States.
And, as we have noted before, following the passage of Prop 47, which Gascón co-authored, theft crimes rose across California. This post-Prop 47 rise in crime was verified by a U.C. Irvine Study, that denied causation, but conceded that after Prop 47, theft crimes went up, recidivism rates remained high and no significant savings were realized in state prison spending. A subsequent study by the Public Policy Institute of California concluded that Prop 47 was the likely cause of the increase in theft crimes.
However, what really irritated said freeleance reporter was an article in which we noted that “on streets where the boundary line was between San Francisco County and San Mateo County, thieves would commit car burglaries on the San Francisco side of the border because they would face less punishment.”
According to freelance reporter, “This bold claim is completely unsourced and unverified,” and that “a person intent on committing an auto burglary would not have enough information to make a rational choice to commit the crime on one side of the county line over the other.”
We actually did provided a link to our sources in the original article “Attempt to Buy District Attorneys Continues.” (A quick Google search would have revealed the same article from which this claim is derived). We will, additionally, post the relevant part below to alay anyone’s fears that we would make unverified claims:
Daly City police Sgt. Ed Green says it is not uncommon to hear suspects nabbed in his jurisdiction to say they would rather get caught in San Francisco than in his city limits.
Said Green: “The bad guys coming into Daly City . . . realize don’t get arrested in San Mateo County.”
Steve Wagstaffe, the county’s district attorney, said his office has made it a priority to put convicted auto burglars as a priority.
“We are an aggressive county when it comes to this problem,” he said.
The county has a no-nonsense policy for such crimes. In San Francisco, repeat offenders can serve 10 days in jail if they are found guilty whereas in San Mateo a similar crime can result in a jail sentence of six months to a year behind bars.
Said Wagstaffe: “Everybody who’s caught by the police in our county . . . we are going to prosecute. We don’t divert them out and there’s no one free bite out of the apple.”
The jurisdiction can vary between San Francisco and San Mateo, and the difference can come down to which side of the street where the cars are parked.
“I’ve heard the tapes, with police where Daly City made an arrest and the person says ‘I was on the wrong side of Geneva Avenue. Hence, I was in San Mateo County, I know what they’re going to do to me down here,” Wagstaffe said.
It isn’t just law enforcement in San Mateo County who thinks that the George Gascón’s prosecution policies have encouraged thieves to commit their thefts in San Francisco as opposed to neighboring counties.
In a recent article we posted, former San Francisco Assistant District Nancy Tung (currently a Deputy District Attorney in Alameda County) reflected on Gascón’s tenure as District Attorney. In pertinent part, she commented that Gascón’s prosecution policies contributed to the property crime rate increase, she wrote:
While, yes, it’s difficult for police to catch porch pirates and auto burglars, what I think is the real issue is that San Francisco has lost the deterrent effect of prosecution. Reputationally, San Francisco is now widely regarded as the place where you can commit a crime and get away with it. And when you have a weak DA like George Gascón, it’s no wonder San Francisco has gone by the wayside, crooks commute into San Francisco to commit crime, and why many were celebrating his departure.”
We hope that the above information is a sufficient reiteration of source material to satisfy the deficiency identified by this freelance journalist. If any others wish for the ADDA to verify our sources, we are happy to re-publish the data, along with our sources and appropriate links.
Michele Hanisee is President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys, the collective bargaining agent representing nearly 1,000 Deputy District Attorneys who work for the County of Los Angeles.