San Francisco used to be a picturesque tourist destination and great place to live, but all that has changed dramatically in recent years as crime and homelessness rise, prompting residents to flee the city in droves. Homeless encampments and human feces on the streets are quickly replacing the Golden Gate Bridge and cable cars as the dominant images that people associate with the city.
A poll that was released by the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce that involved feedback from more than 500 city residents revealed the serious problems the city is currently facing. Remarkably, more than 40 percent of residents have said that they intend to move out of the city within the next few years.
One of the biggest problems there is, is crime, with four fifths of residents saying that crime has gotten worse in recent years. Meanwhile, 88 percent say that homelessness has worsened and 70 percent feel that their overall quality of life in the city has declined.
A greater police presence is desperately needed
One potential solution to the city’s woes is a greater law enforcement presence, something that may be difficult to attain as people continue to push for police “defunding” across the nation. More than three fourths of those surveyed said that increasing the number of police officers patrolling high-crime neighborhoods should be one of the city’s biggest priorities. Eighty two percent said they would like there to be more case workers on the streets helping people with substance abuse and mental illness issues.
The poll also revealed that 60 percent of respondents feel that San Francisco should place a high priority on maintaining funding for its police academy classes to recruit younger members to replace officers who have retired or left the department.
The city is dealing with a dramatic drop in police recruits, which is a big problem as the city needs around 400 more officers to address its 18 percent shortage. Departments are struggling to attract applicants because of relentless calls to defund the police, officers being assaulted on the streets, and escalating violent situations.
The city has been hit with brazen property crimes in recent months as COVID-19 restrictions loosen. Car break-ins have been climbing steadily as tourists return to the city. In May, the San Francisco Police Department’s Central Station recorded a 753 percent rise in car burglaries compared to May 2020. Although lockdown restrictions were in place in May 2020, this year’s break-ins still represent a rise of 75 percent compared to 2019. Break-ins rose 94 percent between April and May this year.
Burglaries and shoplifting are also climbing, with people stealing from stores in full view of helpless clerks and other shoppers because there just aren’t any repercussions. Walgreens has closed more than a dozen stores in the city in the last five years because of organized crime rings.
In addition, San Francisco registered 712 drug overdose deaths in 2020 and is already on pace to outnumber that this year. This year, police have already seized 8.8 kilograms of fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid, according to CNN. That amount could theoretically kill the entire population of San Francisco seven times over, and it easily outpaces the 5.5 kilos of fentanyl seized last year, which itself was quadruple the amount seized the year prior.
Although San Francisco has been on a downward spiral for many years, this should serve as a precautionary tale of what happens when we stop supporting law enforcement and let crime run unchecked. A once-beautiful city that many people were proud to call home and even more enjoyed visiting is now a crime-ridden dump that nearly half of its residents are desperate to escape from.
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