For decades there has been confusion and general inaction when it comes to the hundreds and hundreds of citations that police give to aggressive panhandlers and those who drink and urinate on San Francisco’s streets. But there might soon be a plan in place to hold the worst offenders accountable.
Spurred by a Chronicle story earlier this month that detailed how the citations are regularly dismissed, thrown out or simply ignored, representatives of the Police Department, mayor’s office, district attorney and Superior Court have put together a series of proposals that should significantly improve the handling of these so-called quality-of-life infractions.
The plan focuses on chronic lawbreakers – those who rack up dozens of citations over a few months – and require them to appear at court. Currently, chronic offenders shrug off infractions. If they don’t show up at court – and they rarely do – a bench warrant is issued, but it hardly ever results in any consequences.
“We want to look at the process for the top 40 offenders,” said Dariush Kayhan, the city’s homeless policy director. “We want to be able to flag these people, require them to show up in court and then have the judge walk them through all the violations that have occurred.”
Stranger things have happened in San Francisco, and it is nice to see public officials paying attention, but I’m not holding my breath.