Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Drug Dealing in The TL: A Presentation

Tonight the Tenderloin Station held a meeting at the Community Room at 301 Eddy St where guest speakers ADA Sharon Woo (head of narcotics unit) and Judge Ron Albers (Head of the Community Justice Center Court) had a chance to address about 50 members of the TL community regarding concerns about how drug dealing is dealt with in the TL.

An officer (I am a poor reporter) started the presentation stating that, although police chief Gascon could not make it, the recent sweeps of drug dealers in the TL (reported in other articles here on the blog) had been such a success that the Sheriff pods are too full and the police have been asked to back off from making so many arrests. However that moratorium on drug sweeps is likely to end as there are three major police operations scheduled for October 1st(!)

Sharon Woo then began her portion of the talk with a presentation of statistics that she had run regarding arrests made in the TL and the subsequent actions taken by the DA's office. Woo stated that 81% of the cases that had come to the DA's office for felony drug sales and possession had been charged by the DA and an additional 10% of cases resulted in probation violations, meaning that 91% of those types of cases had sort of action taken on them by the DA. Woo added that most of those offenders were kept in custody and if they were released on OR they were given stay away orders to stay away from the area where they were picked up. Woo also rebutted the presumption that most of the dealing that occurred in the TL was the result of people from outside the County by giving a statistic that 67% of those picked up for dealing in the TL were from SF County. Woo stated that she was very pleased with these numbers.

Judge Albers then gave a presentation regarding the CJC wherein he outlined the purposes of the CJC (to address the concerns of the community by looking at the root causes of the types of crime committed in the TL and address the behavioral issues of the persons committing those crimes) and how the CJC is designed to treat those individuals (increased emphasis on social services and addiction treatment programs, and uniquely tailored strategic plans for different types of offenders). Judge Albers placed emphasis on the fact that about 2/3 of the people that he sees in the CJC have addiction issues, about 50% have mental health issues, and overall about 80% have one or the other, or both. The emphasis in the presentation given by Judge Albers seemed to be on letting the community know exactly what the CJC was doing and that the concerns of the community about rampant drug dealing and use are being addressed

The members of the community present reflected many different points of view from "I have seen no difference whatsoever since the drug sweeps" to "the new enforcement scheme seems to be making a big difference." Some people were frustrated with the inability to go into their homes without being harassed by drug dealers and users and seemed to be advocating for a more strict enforcement scheme. Others felt that the CJC was a good approach to dealing with drug problems: "You need to combat the demand, and when you get rid of the demand for drugs you will see the suppliers leave" one woman said, turning to Ms. Woo "Do you want some crack?" Though asking an Assistant DA if they want any crack seems rather odd, the point seemed to support the position of the CJC: If you treat the addiction you will get rid of the crime that goes along with it.

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