Police crack down on Muni crime 

Muni riders no longer have to post YouTube videos of fights between passengers on buses in order to get the Police Department’s attention.

San Francisco police are implementing a new method to crack down on rising crime on Muni — along with complaints about the lack of police officers monitoring the system — that relies on operators and passengers to report any illegal activity they see to authorities.

The reports will then be organized and analyzed so the Police Department knows exactly when, where and which bus and streetcar lines the crimes are happening most often. Both uniformed and undercover officers will then be sent to problem spots on Muni.

The tactic — which has been tested with success on Muni lines within the Ingleside police district — was fueled by a city controller’s study released this month looking for solutions to rising crime and disorder on Muni.

Between 2005 and 2009, a city survey showed that passengers in all San Francisco districts felt less safe riding Muni, with the exception of the Bayview and Mission districts, where passengers felt the same level of safety, the controller’s report said.

Last year, only 42 percent of passengers citywide felt safe or very safe riding Muni.

Crime on Muni became a highlight at City Hall earlier this year after high-profile Muni stabbings, YouTube videos of fights onboard buses and a highly publicized attack on a woman thrown in front of a T-Third train.

The crimes have been especially worrisome considering the cash-strapped transit agency pays hundreds of thousands of dollars to the SFPD each year for protection.

To examine ways police can better reduce Muni crime, city auditors focused on the Ingleside police district, which the study said saw the greatest decline in perception of safety. Incident reports logged by operators “confirmed the perception that crime on Muni was getting worse,” the report said.

Police opted to put those operator reports to good use, deploying officers to specific trouble spots. That resulted in a sharp drop in vandalism, the report said.

The SFMTA said it is already complying with the recommendations and working closely with police.


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