Regular readers know I’m very sympathetic to big city police officers who were treated like garbage starting in the summer of 2020. Officers who resigned or retired for greener pastures when it became clear they weren’t wanted or appreciated made the right call. That said, if you’re going to stay on the job and keep collecting a paycheck, this kind of half-assed response isn’t good enough.
A jazz bar in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco was broken into early Tuesday morning. It was over an hour before a witness told police the club was being robbed. Police and firefighters responded to the scene.
Upon arrival, officers saw an individual exit the business through the shattered glass door and detained the person.
“Officers conducted a walkthrough of the business and determined that it was unoccupied,” a police spokesperson said in an email to The Chronicle. “The detained individual was released pending further investigation.”
So police did not arrest one of the people found inside the business. They tried to get hold of the owner by phone but couldn’t get a response so they covered the smashed door with a piece of plastic and left for good.
Fritz Quattlebaum, who owns the Black Cat bar and supper club on Eddy Street, said police and fire crews who responded to the initial burglary early Tuesday morning taped a plastic shade to the frame of the shattered glass door and left after 20 minutes…
“The Police Department is one block away, and no one bothered to stop by and check,” Quattlebaum said. “Most of the damage, most of the stuff (taken) happened after police got there.”…
“They just walked around the place, picking things up and putting it in the bag,” Quattlebaum said. “People would look at things … and put it back down like, ‘No, I don’t want to take it.’”
In an interview with KRON 4, Quattlebaum said, “Cars were driving by and seeing that this was happening and would stop in the middle of the road, put their flashers on and then go into our business and take stuff.” The robberies went on for five hours after police left the scene.
The Tenderloin is a notoriously drug and crime infested part of the city. Covering a broken door with a piece of plastic is not going to do anything to keep people out. And yet, the fire department said there were “absolutely no mistakes made” in the response. A police spokesman was similarly unmoved, saying that officers acted according to policy. I’m sure that’s true but then policy is just defining what police absolutely have to do to avoid getting themselves in trouble. Acting according to policy doesn’t mean they did a good job in this case.
The SF Chronicle notes this isn’t the first time police have been criticized by business owners for doing next to nothing to help them. Last November officers were caught on surveillance video watching as a burglary took place at a pot shop.
San Francisco police responding to a 911 call about a possible burglary at a cannabis dispensary last week arrived at the location in the neighborhood north of the Panhandle in what would appear to have been the perfect moment to make an arrest.
Three suspects were present. Police had time to shine a spotlight on a possible getaway vehicle, which was parked in front of the business, while a final suspect lingered inside the dispensary and would not exit for almost 40 seconds.
But instead of confronting the suspects or arresting anyone, police stood by as the final suspect exited the building, clumsily jumped into the driver’s seat of the gray sedan and executed a three-point turn in front of police vehicles and drove away.
Those officers were eventually sent for additional training. Apparently they missed the day the police academy taught about arresting thieves instead of letting them drive away as you watch. Here’s the KRON 4 report on the burglary.