‘We Have No Protection’: San Francisco Police Respond To Burglary Call Nearly 15 Hours Later

San Francisco, USA - July 24, 2008: homeless people cross the street at a pedestrian crossing with green light in San Francisco.

‘We Have No Protection’: San Francisco Police Respond To Burglary Call Nearly 15 Hours Later

Reagan Reese on February 1, 2023

The San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) did not respond to a burglary call for nearly 15 hours on Jan. 13 and its investigation into the incident still has not produced results, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Joe Vernieri, owner of the Black Magic Voodoo Lounge, reported a robbery of his bar to the SFPD’s Central Station at 1:06 p.m. but police did not respond until the next morning at 3:14 a.m., according to the Chronicle. Police opened an investigation into the robbery on Jan. 25, 12 days after the crime had been reported.

“Small businesses in San Francisco are getting squeezed all the time, and we have no protection from the city,” Eleanor Hayes, Vernieri’s wife, told the outlet. “The message is, ‘You should just be happy it wasn’t worse.’”

When Vernieri called in the robbery he told the police department that he had a witness to the robbery, the Chronicle reported. Mick Martinez, a neighbor of the bar, confronted three men who had broken into the bar and then escaped in a pickup truck.

While 1,923 San Francisco police officers have been sworn in, hundreds are on leave, with just 1,537 active, according to the department website. In January, the police department took an average 9.25 minutes to respond to the most serious crimes such as gunshots and in-progress burglaries, the Chronicle reported.

San Francisco supervisor Matt Dorsey called the staffing shortage “catastrophic” in January and proposed the city match police officer recruitment bonuses in order to solve the issue, according to CBS News. Under the plan, the department would have 2,182 police officers within the next four years.

“San Francisco is on the precipice of a potentially catastrophic police staffing shortage, and there are too many public safety problems we’ll be helpless to solve if we don’t start solving SFPD’s understaffing crisis first,” Dorsey told CBS News.

Khaleel Almalak, owner of Chico’s Pizza, a business close to Black Magic Voodoo Lounge did not receive a response to his Jan. 11 burglary call until nearly 36 hours after he reported it, the Chronicle reported. Thieves took the safe and cash register from the pizza place which was just one of several burglaries in the neighborhood.

“While the SFPD is short-staffed and our response times have been negatively impacted as a result, a response time of over 12 hours for a call of this nature falls far short of the department’s and the public’s expectations,” San Francisco Officer Robert Rueca, told the Chronicle.

Vernieri and the SFPD did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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