Here's why San Francisco police may take days to respond to your 911 calls

Melanie Woodrow Image
Tuesday, August 15, 2023
Here's why SF police may take days to respond to your 911 calls
The ABC7 I-Team breaks down how long it takes for San Francisco police to respond to 911 calls. The quick answer: it depends on the crime.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- If you're the victim of a crime that's no longer in progress in San Francisco and you're not injured, it could take days for SFPD to respond. That's according to the San Francisco Police Officer's Association president.

There's plenty of sweetness inside Fillmore Bakeshop along with some bitterness as well. Two times in two weeks, owner Elena Basegio had to call 911 for help.

"I just feel a lot more unsafe," said Basegio.

On July 26, Basegio arrived at work and discovered someone had broken in using a cinder block.

"There was glass outside and walked in, all the lights were on and the tables were turned over, glass was everywhere, cash box was missing, huge mess," Basegio explained.

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Basegio says she called 911 around 3:45 a.m, but no one from SFPD responded.

"I called 911 a second time and the woman very kindly and sincerely told me 'look, you're just not a priority they're gonna get there when they get there, but they have more important things to deal with,'" Basegio continued.

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Three hours after her initial call, she says SFPD showed up.

"And that was only after I was able to contact someone I knew in SFPD and ask them to please send someone by," said Basegio.

"Three hours to me is unacceptable," she continued.

"I'm not allowed to delay paying my taxes," said Basegio.

San Francisco Police Officers Association President Tracy McCray tells ABC7 News when a crime is over and there are no injuries, it is a C priority call.

"I personally know that there have been C priority calls that have come to the police department and it has been days before an officer has gotten out to that location to even take a report," said Lt. Tracy McCray, SFPOA President.

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"The response is definitely tied to the number of officers we have out there to handle these calls. We're way below where we should be," she continued.

SFPD tells the I-Team it cannot confirm the response time for this specific incident, but that it understands the frustration when calls for service take longer than expected.

By email, an SFPD spokesperson said the department is currently short 599 officers. Also, that SFPD is on track to hire 100 officers over the next fiscal year.

After replacing a broken window and stolen cash box --

"It really was just our turn," said Basegio.

Eight days later, Beasegio needed police help again.

On August 3, she says someone came to the bakeshop before opening and asked for food.

"I have to let them know that unfortunately, I can't do that. Um, they started to get more and more agitated and before I know, they kicked our clapboard sign into me, go across the street, grab something, throw it at our window, another window is broken," said Basegio.

"It was just at that point adrenaline, like just trying to lock the door so we're safe, and being completely shocked that it even took that turn," she continued.

She estimates the two incidents cost the bakery approximately $4,000. She also shared pictures of her bruises following the second incident. This time, she says, police responded in about 20-25 minutes.

McCray says if an incident is over but medical attention may be needed, it is a B priority call.

An A priority call would be an active crime, happening in the moment.

"We're trying to get to that call in under 3 minutes," McCray explained.

The following day, Basegio says the man from the second incident returned to the area. She called police again and says they responded within 30 minutes and had her identify the man they picked up. He's currently in custody for vandalism and battery charges as well as charges he misrepresented who he was to police. He also had an outstanding warrant from Alameda County for failure to appear while on probation.

The Public Defender's Office tells ABC7 News it's early in the case .. and that its office plans to vigorously defend him.

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The two incidents in a matter of days with varying response times have taken a toll.

"At this point I just kind of feel like, you know, you're on your own and that sucks .. you know as a taxpayer that's scary... it's scary and it hurts honestly," said Basegio.

"If I was a small business owner right, yeah, I would feel incredibly on an island," said McCray.

"I'm not getting what I'm paying, the taxes for the services that I'm supposed to be getting where are my tax dollars going," she continued.

SFPD tells ABC7 News it expanded its Civilian Ambassador Program, which acts as a force-multiplier by having real-time communication with police to improve response times.

McCray worries victims who feel defeated and alone will stop reporting crime.

"But if you never call, we don't get that stat, right, we don't change the way we may try to police that area, to catch the person who might be doing the crime right because you don't feel worthy enough," said McCray.

SFPD of course urges anyone who is a victim or witnesses a crime to contact them. In its statement, the police department also made mention that it's 280th academy is the largest class since 2020 when the COVID pandemic caused wide-spread hiring and retention challenges.

Take a look at more stories by the ABC7 News I-Team.

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