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Questions surround SFPD's tactic following release of video of overnight robbery

Newly released video of an overnight robbery of a business in San Francisco’s Castro District is raising new questions about the city’s police department.

The incident happened in September. A resident called police after hearing people breaking through the Lookout Bar’s front door.

A police patrol car with lights and sirens pulls up behind what turns out to be a getaway car.

For about 15 seconds, there seems to be a pause as the SUV edges away and two suspects finally run out of the building and hop in as the SUV makes a U-turn and drives away.

“We see a police response that I think your average San Franciscan, most of my constituents would say is not great,” said San Francisco District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman.

Mandelman’s office first obtained the video. It was part of an exchange between one of his aids and the police department, trying to get an accounting of officer’s response to the call.

Business owners in the Castro have been voicing increasing frustration over repeated break-ins and robberies there.

The video was posted on social media Friday by longtime local activist Michael Petrelis, who filed a freedom of information act request with the city to get it.

“I put this video out on the web, so show people this is what’s happening to our small businesses in the Castro,” he said. “And it’s also showing that the police also seem to have a policy of not going after robbers, even though they know they have likely committed a crime.”

NBC Bay Area reached out to San Francisco police Friday for an explanation of their response to the break-in at the Lookout Bar.

After reviewing the officer’s body camera video, a police spokesperson gave the following breakdown:

“As the patrol car arrived, the officer got out of his cruiser, drew his gun and over the police car PA system, repeatedly ordered the driver to stop.

He did not and the two suspects then jumped in the car and drove off. In the video you can see a second police cruiser follow the fleeing SUV.

Over police radio, the first officer tells them to follow while he secures the scene.

Later, a supervisor tells the second patrol car to stop following the SUV because of the department’s pursuit policy.”

There is a copy of the San Francisco Police Department’s emergency response and pursuit policy, it was adopted in May of 2013. It is 13 pages long and describes when an officer can and cannot pursue a suspect.

According to police, because the incident was a property crime with no imminent danger to the public or the officers. Then responding units followed policy.

“There’s a ballot measure in March, Prop E, which I think is very much trying to address this feeling that we’ve sort of depoliced ourselves,” Mandelman said.

Petrelis, who’s also a candidate for supervisor of San Francisco’s District 9, does not support Prop E. But based on this video, he believes the department’s pursuit policy should be reexamined.

“The police need to do all they can to stop a crime in progress, and that they need flexibility,” Petrelis said.

According to police, no arrests have been made in the case.


Source: NBC Bay Area

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