SAN FRANCISCO – The recent push to defund police departments sweeping the country is not without precedent. In fact, it's already been tried in one of America's largest cities - San Francisco. The effects of those policies can be studied to shows what the rest of America might face if police departments are going to be neutered in other areas.
San Francisco used to be known as one of America's most beautiful cities. It's also one of the world's wealthiest, and most liberal. It's been governed by Democrats since 1964, and 100 percent of the city council are progressive liberals. In recent years, the city has become a testbed for many of the policies and laws Democrats are proposing for the rest of the country.
Offering sanctuary to illegal immigrants, cash payments, free gourmet meals and even free marijuana to the city's homeless, decriminalizing property crime and defunding the police are all initiatives that have been in place here for years. The city's "de-policing" initiative aimed to strip police of their power to enforce the law.
San Francisco Resident Doug Wylie, editor in chief of PoliceOne.com, says it makes police hesitant to do their jobs.
"They fear repercussions, whether it's legal or social or whatever, they fear it'll put them in a beef," Wylie explains. "So agencies are saying there are certain things we don't want you to do anymore...or individual officers slow rolling to a call...and the consequence of that is increased crime."
The results have been as negative as they were predictable. The city is now more dangerous than 98% of American cities. Homelessness and illegal drug use is rampant. Property crimes, which have been all but decriminalized, have skyrocketed to more than 55,000 each year.
"Brad", a software engineer, told us, "On a daily basis you'll see people shooting up heroin, or you'll walk, and there's used hypodermic needles on the ground, there's human feces. So all these things where you are at the hub of innovation, you are at the center of progressive thought, and yet people are left to be living on the street, using drugs."
Wylie said, "They have changed the laws but they have also de-emphasized enforcing the laws that do exist. Heroin is still illegal, but it's really not enforced when it's on the street... That's what the example of de-policing is. If you de-emphasize or decriminalize, people are going to do what they think they can get away with doing."
"They say they want to mitigate police shootings yet they don't allow police to carry tasers?" Brad pointed out.
In 2015, 32-year-old Kate Steinle became one of the many victims of San Francisco's soft-on-crime but hard-on-citizens approach to law enforcement.
Kate Steinle was murdered here on Pier 14 in San Francisco. The man who killed her claimed it was an accident. But some argue that was an accident that was constructed by the city of San Francisco through bad policy.
First of all, the killer was a felon with seven felony convictions who had been deported from the United States five different times before that. He had also been arrested by the Sheriff of San Francisco. But because of that city's "sanctuary city" policies, they had let him go only hours earlier and not informed ICE so he could be deported again.
That's why he was able to be here on this pier, where he acquired a stolen gun – a gun had been stolen from a car that was parked right over here on the embarcadero several nights earlier. The reason the car was broken into was because of San Francisco's policy of decriminalizing auto break-ins, making it basically like a parking ticket, and because of that somebody was able to break into that car and steal that gun.
Now the third point is that the gun was in the car in the first place because of San Francisco's very restrictive policy on the carrying of guns. The man who owned the gun was a park ranger from the Bureau of Land Management. He was on his way north to Montana to work. But he went out with his family here, didn't want to bring his gun into the restaurant because of the very tight gun control policies, and so the gun got left into the car, the car got broken into, the weapon got stolen, the illegal immigrant picked it up, and Kate Steinle is dead today as a result.
Wylie argues, "It bothers me enormously that people like elected officials and celebrities in Hollywood are surrounded by armed guards, armed security. And I'm not allowed to protect myself in the same way. That makes me feel that they feel I'm less of a person to protect."
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