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Muni stabbings persist while overall crime drops

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A stabbing aboard a Muni bus in the Sunset district is the most recent in a string of knifings aboard the transit system during the past year despite an overall drop in violent crimes.

A man aboard a 29-Sunset bus who slapped a woman proceeded to stab a victim, who had intervened, with an “unknown sharp object.”

Late last month, a man was knifed near a T-Third Street platform in the Bayview district, halting service so police could hunt for suspects on the light-rail vehicle.

In the fall, there was the unprovoked stabbing of a 24-year-old woman riding a J-Church light-rail vehicle. That crime was investigated as being connected to an attack on an 11-year-old boy on Muni in September.

Police say that in the past year they have taken a more proactive role, mainly by using a data-collection system that sends officers to the most-dangerous lines and stations during times when crime is most prevalent.

The enforcement has paid off, officials said. During the first four months of the year, there were more than 100 criminal incidents recorded monthly, including assault, robbery, graffiti and other vandalism, police said.

The numbers dropped nearly 50 percent in May and June, to 62 crimes per month, figures showed.

“Our department has been working harder to get on Muni,” police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza said.

Esparza added that more undercover officers are riding the system, thus deterring criminal activity.

But, that’s only one tactic for keeping buses safe, he said. Officers can’t be on every Muni bus and streetcar at all times, but working surveillance cameras can monitor offenses. Last year, Muni was criticized for having a large number of inoperable cameras on vehicles.

That has since changed, Muni spokesman Paul Rose said.

The 5,500-odd cameras on buses, streetcars and in stations are in working order, he said.

“We monitor them every day to make sure they are operating properly,” Rose said.

Some are older technology, but the agency has stepped up its preventive maintenance during the past few months, Rose said.
In the stabbing on the 29-Sunset bus Monday, cameras were working and cops were reviewing footage to identify suspects, officials said.

“[Cameras] help a lot,” Esparza said. “Just having that presence and the visibility in the public to deter crime is great.”

 

Curbing crime

 

Muni and the SFPD are working to reduce criminal behavior on the transit system.

- 5,500 Cameras monitoring Muni buses, rail lines, stations

- 800-plus Cameras on buses

-569 Criminal incidents on Muni between January and June

-114 Criminal incidents on Muni in January

-62 Criminal incidents on Muni in June

Sources: Muni, SFPD