SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Facing a recall election next month, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin joined KRON4 for a live primetime interview Monday, May 9 at 9:30 p.m.
Boudin faced questions on crime, criminal justice reform and the effort to remove him from office from KRON4 Political Anchor Catherine Heenan.
Boudin said that the preponderance of groups opposed to the recall, including the city’s Democratic Party and the San Francisco Chronicle, should convince voters that the effort to remove him from office prematurely is misguided.
“Everyone San Francisco voters trust opposes this recall,” Boudin said.
On auto burglaries, Boudin stressed that reported auto burglaries have declined since a 2017 peak, and said that police have to do more to bring arrests to his office.
“We’ve seen a pretty steady decline in the number of auto burglaries in San Francisco,” Boudin said. “We saw a 40% decline in my first year in office. That’s not enough for me. … This year they [the police department] are only able to solve 1% of reported auto burglaries; we have to do better.”
Boudin also said that his relationship with the San Francisco Police Department’s head, Chief Bill Scott, is good.
“I have a great relationship with Chief Scott,” Boudin said. “But lets be honest, there are real tensions between the district attorney’s office and the police union In particular.”
There has been tension between the SFPD and Boudin since his tenure began. The DA’s office and the police department fought over the memorandum of understanding between their offices earlier this year. Boudin also made headlines by revealing that the SFPD had used DNA collected during sexual assault investigations to try to tie victims to crimes.
Boudin stressed that San Francisco’s DA’s have always sparred with the police, and especially the San Francisco Police Officer’s Association, which is the union representing police officers. Boudin said that when then-District Attorney Kamala Harris promised not to seek the death penalty “the Police Officer’s Association viciously attacked her.” He also said that when Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón served in San Francisco from 2011 to 2019, the POA was “viciously attacking him [and] undermining his administration” in spite of the fact that he’d previously been San Francisco’s police chief.
“Chief Scott and I share a deep commitment to keeping San Francisco safe [and] to police reform,” Boudin said. “Obviously we both face different challenges, bottlenecks and pressures.”
Of those promoting the recall, Boudin said “they want to trick people into thinking that replacing one elected official with someone appointed by the mayor will solve all of these problems.”
On open-air drug markets in the Tenderloin, Boudin said he views it as a public health issue.
“We know that the war on drugs has not worked. We cannot just rely on arrests and prosecutions,” he said. “It has to be easier to get help than to get high in San Francisco.”
Boudin said that there may be a place for prosecuting drug users, but only if there are law enforcement-assisted diversion programs to help them get sober.
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“Law enforcement can play a role in arresting users if the role is connecting them with services, but right now in San Francisco those services don’t exist,” Boudin said.