That agreement mandated that all beat officers ride a Muni bus at least twice during their shift. But riders and Muni operators made embarrassing allegations of cops just trying to meet their quota: riding a
couple of blocks and hopping off, solving crosswords while on board, or a
single officer swiping numerous TransLink passes in order to get absent
buddies credit for a ride they didn't take.
The police, in
turn, responded that they are implementing a new program in which all
district captains must turn in a monthly plan to address Muni safety issues in their precinct. For example,
Captain David Lazar of Ingleside Station notes he's been running a Muni safety
pilot program since the beginning of October in which officers --
sometimes in uniform, sometimes in plain clothes -- have been targeting
high-crime routes at pinpointed times of the day. He's also
stationed officers to catch fare cheats at six problematic
intersections. Due to the effort, the district's officers have issued
250 citations for everything from graffiti to open alcoholic beverages
to using counterfeit Fast Passes.
"It's no longer acceptable
for me as a captain to say ride when you want to ride," said Lazar of his orders to officers.
"It's important to give them the data so they can get on the bus when
they need to to address crime."
Before hearing from the
officers, Dufty took in numerous horror stores from riders: Tim
Bishop, (spelling for him and other public speakers is phonetic)
explained how he confronted some "unruly youths" on the T-Third line in
January after they started yelling homosexual epithets. Bishop says the
group of kids then repeatedly kicked him in the head until he was
unconscious, yet the train didn't stop and no one came to his aid. He
says the police told him it couldn't be booked as a hate crime since
they weren't calling him a "faggot" while they kicked him, but after
he'd confronted them about yelling the word "faggot." Dufty said he'd
look into it.
Another woman, Margaret Mooney, told a similar
tale that after she touched a girl's backpack in an empty seat on a
crowded train, three girls beat her up, one kicking her in the head
with combat boots. All three then got off the train, and the driver and
other passengers didn't do a damn thing to stop it.
blogger Michael Petrelis showed up to tell about his wallet getting
filched on a bus to the Haight; he yelled at the driver to stop the
bus to no avail.
But the Muni drivers' hands are tied, too.
One former driver, Marcus Davis, explained how an ornery passenger cut
him behind the ear and threw beer on him. Davis stepped off the train
momentarily to collect himself, and says he later lost his job for
exiting the train. Irwin Lum, head of the local Transit Workers Union,
said that drivers are under tremendous pressure to stay on schedule,
and are trained not to get out of their seats to deal with incidents.
Their only recourse is to simply report the incident to central control.
says he hopes to hold another hearing in a few months to hear about the
SFPD's progress in snuffing Muni crime. Dufty has a lot of political capital invested in
it, and his critics know it. The online
satirist at SF Bulldog, H. Brown made a dig at Dufty at the hearing: "The last thing we need is Pee Wee Herman running for mayor."
Dufty took it in stride. "Thank you, thank you for being here." I know you are, but what am I?
Photo | Jim Herd