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SFPD increases presence in Asian neighborhoods after mass shootings

Police Chief Bill Scott(right) announced a plan to increase the uniformed officers in the districts of the city with majority Asian populations after two mass shootings during the Lunar New Year at a press conference on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023, at the Lady Shaw Senior Center in Chinatown. | Camille Cohen/The Standard

After two mass shootings in California during Lunar New Year, the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) is boosting its police presence in neighborhoods with majority Asian populations.

At a press conference Thursday, Police Chief Bill Scott said the department has immediately put up a plan to increase the uniformed officers on the streets after the Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay incidents, despite ongoing “staffing crises.”

“The difficulty is sustaining that type of increasing presence,” Scott said, “but we are committed to doing whatever we can.”

The neighborhoods include Chinatown, Clement Street in the Richmond, Irving Street in the Sunset and San Bruno Avenue in Portola.

Robert O'Sullivan, SFPD’s deputy chief of the Field Operations Bureau, said that it’s always been a priority to have police presence in Chinatown and other predominantly Asian American areas because of community concerns about public safety. But recent mass shootings have spotlighted an increased need for law enforcement to be visible.

“My message to all my district station captains has been to increase visible, uniformed presence,” O'Sullivan told The Standard. 

Leadership has granted more flexibility and discretion to captains to deploy additional officers to patrol the street, both on regular duty or on overtime.

For years, SFPD has claimed to have a staffing shortage. District 6 Supervisor Matt Dorsey, a former SFPD staff member, recently unveiled a recruitment bonus plan to increase the police workforce.

SFPD leaders and District Attorney Brooke Jenkins attend a press conference where Police Chief Bill Scott announced a plan to increase the uniformed officers in the districts of the city with majority Asian populations on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023, at the Lady Shaw Senior Center in Chinatown, San Francisco, Calif. | Camille Cohen/The Standard

City officials gathered in Chinatown on Thursday to announce a new coordinated plan to support victims in the city with SFPD, District Attorney’s Office and community-based groups to provide direct and culturally competent assistance. City leaders also emphasized the need to crack down on hate crimes despite a decrease in reported hate incidents.

Both shooting events have shocked the country—and the Asian American community in particular, as both suspected shooters and the majority of the fatalities were Asian. The Half Moon Bay mass shooting left seven dead, while the Monterey Park massacre killed 11.

Half Moon Bay Victim’s SF Ties

Two of the Half Moon Bay shooting victims are Chinese American seniors with San Francisco addresses.

Anni Chung, the President and CEO of Self-Help for the Elderly chats with senior citizens at a press conference on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023, at the Lady Shaw Senior Center in Chinatown. | Camille Cohen/The Standard

Anni Chung, the director of the Self-Help for the Elderly, who hosted the press conference Thursday, confirmed that one of the senior victims was the organization's client a decade ago, but it had lost contact with that person long ago.

Chung added that her organization is on standby to provide senior services to local Chinese immigrant workers in San Mateo County.

Han Li can be reached at han@sfstandard.com