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London Breed battles her own messaging on crime in San Francisco

From supporting the effort to oust former soft-on-crime District Attorney Chesa Boudin to pushing measures that ease restrictions on the police department, San Francisco Mayor London Breed wants residents to know that her tough-on-crime efforts have led to a safer city. 

Up for reelection in November, Breed is struggling to deal with residents’ perceptions that crime in the city hasn’t improved despite her efforts. A poll conducted in February showed that 76% of residents disapproved of Breed’s handling of keeping residents and businesses safe from crime and that 75% disapproved of her handling of the city’s overdose crisis. 

Residents’ perceptions conflict with statistics released in April showing a decrease in property crime by 32% and violent crime by 14% compared to this time last year. Car break-ins are down by 51%, and smash-and-grabs are down by 50% in the first four months of 2024.

However, headlines and viral videos focusing on the open-air drug market and retail thefts have tinted the perception of conditions in San Francisco. Last week, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) had his car broken into, and his suits were stolen hours before attending a high-end fundraiser for his Senate bid.

Breed’s challengers are looking to home in on San Francisco residents’ dissatisfaction with Breed, who, for years, emphasized crime reports on the city. 

Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin, a challenger to Breed, said Breed’s years of messaging about how bad crime is in the city is hard to move away from.  

“It just seems like too much of a pivot,” Peskin told Politico. “It doesn’t seem credible even though, objectively, people actually are safer and their car is less likely to be broken into.”

Breed’s Proposition E measure, approved by voters, gives law enforcement greater leeway in using technology and drones to crack down on crimes. However, Breed’s opponents, such as former interim Mayor Mark Farrell and nonprofit organization executive Daniel Lurie, criticized Breed for not going far enough to support the police.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER

But Breed’s campaign team remains hopeful voters will see Breed’s yearslong work at improving the city’s overall condition. 

“People are starting to feel the difference, and we want them to feel it more consistently over the next months and years,” said Joe Arellano, Breed’s campaign spokesman. “There is much less broken glass in the typical hot spots.”

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