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Pelosi attack may underscore a feeling of decreased safety in San Francisco

San Francisco Police cordon the area around U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s home on the 2600 block of Broadway in the Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco, Calif. on Friday, October 28, 2022. | Benjamin Fanjoy/The Standard

The attack on Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s husband at his home in Pacific Heights is likely to exacerbate a feeling of decreased safety among San Franciscans.

"I'm sure this incident is going to amplify the ongoing discussion where public safety is mostly lacking in San Francisco," said Ross Mirkarimi, a former sheriff and supervisor in San Francisco.

Mirkarimi, who now works as a consultant on use-of-force investigations in jails and serves as an adjunct professor of criminal justice at Cal State Stanislaus, added that Friday morning's attack will likely result in a reassessment of "risk assessments on somebody as high-profile as Nancy Pelosi and her family."

Unfortunately, many San Franciscans are feeling like the city has become more dangerous. The Standard’s Fall Voter Poll finds that 64% of San Franciscans feel less safe living in the city than they did one year ago.

Among those saying they feel less safe, 33% say they’ve personally been the victim of a crime in the past year, while another 45% say their family members or friends have been victimized. 

Interestingly, 60% of SF voters who feel less safe report being involved in an interaction that felt unsafe but did not rise to the level of a crime.

Mirkarimi said reports of the attacker using a hammer to attack Paul Pelosi sound "deranged and maybe not sophisticated, but emblematic of San Francisco's failing public safety."

Indeed, the city has struggled to protect its citizens from mentally ill individuals who threaten others but don’t officially commit a crime. This type of situation was recently illustrated by Bill Gene Hobbs, who was finally arrested after numerous outcries from local women whom he followed and tormented.

Despite the perception of decreased safety in SF, the city's official crime data does not show a significant uptick in violent crime compared to pre-pandemic levels.