San Francisco's Public Safety Efforts Deliver Results, Decline in Crime Rates

Enhanced strategies to address property crimes and violent crimes, disrupt open-air drug markets, and prioritize police staffing and prosecutions will continue in order to maintain progress
January 23, 2024
Public Safety Graph

San Francisco, CA – Today Mayor London N. Breed announced the City’s public safety efforts yielded significant results in 2023 with crime dropping year over year. In 2023, overall crime was at its lowest point in the last ten years, other than the 2020 year when San Francisco and the region was mostly shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The drop in crime is driven by significant decreases in property crime, most notably larceny thefts that include car break-ins and retail theft. Violent crime also remains below pre-pandemic levels. These crime trends are continuing in the first month of 2024, as are the city’s efforts to confront its public safety challenges.    

In total, San Francisco’s crime rate in 2023 was lower than any period in the last ten years, except for 2020 when the pandemic caused a Citywide shutdown: 

  • Overall Crime: 7% decrease from 2022 and a 13% decrease from 2019  
  • Property Crime: Lower than any period in the last 10 years, except for 2020 
  • Violent Crime: Remains below pre-pandemic levels, down 11% from 2019  

These outcomes are the result of the hard work of law enforcement and Mayor Breed’s efforts to expand and prioritize enforcement against property crime; set zero tolerance for drug dealing and use that makes neighborhoods unsafe for families, children, seniors, and workers; and invest in rebuilding police staffing and dedicated prosecutors to address drug-related crimes and retail thefts.  

The Mayor has also prioritized giving the police greater access to new technological tools, strengthening coordination across local law enforcement agencies, bringing in partners at the state and federal level to help combat the drug crimes on our streets, and being more efficient and creative with City resources to ensure police officers are able to be out on the street serving the community. 

“Our work around public safety is making a difference, but we’ve got more work to do,” said Mayor London Breed. “We are not letting up on our efforts to make San Francisco a safer and enjoyable city for everyone, and this includes continuing to ramp up police staffing and giving our local enforcement agencies the resources they need to do their job. I want to thank our local, state, and federal public safety partners for their collaboration. Together we are sending a message that San Francisco won’t tolerate rampant crime and that there will be accountability.” 

"I want to thank the members of the San Francisco Police Department for their hard work in 2023,” said Chief Bill Scott. “Their efforts helped make our communities safer and put our City on the right direction in driving down crime. I want to thank Mayor London Breed for her support in making public safety a priority.” 

Additional Key Points 

In the first half of 2023 San Francisco saw a significant reduction, or a 35% decrease, in shoplifting – the largest percentage decrease of any City from a 24-city study.  

In the last quarter of 2023, property crimes dropped 34% compared to same time period in 2022, including: 

  • 16% decrease in burglaries 
  • 41% decrease in larceny theft 
  • 11% decline in auto theft 

 The downward has continued into 2024. In the first three weeks of January:

  • Property Crime: Down 41% 
  • Violent Crime: Down 23% 

Enforcement Data  

  • San Francisco doubled the number of drug arrests in the Tenderloin and South of Market (SoMa) for both drug dealers and users in 2023. 
    • Over 2,000 arrests and 260 pounds of fentanyl seized  
  • Homicide Clearance rate for 2023 was 85%, which is far above the national average of 60%. 
  • Access to technology is working, including the City’s new police live camera access that led to 65 arrests in a six-month period. With this technology, SFPD is successfully targeting drug dealing, homicides, and thefts.  

Looking Ahead 

Mayor Breed’s vision prioritizes vibrant, healthy, and safe neighborhoods for the people who live, work, and visit San Francisco. While the City continues to focus on enforcement, the approach will not divert from efforts to offer help to those in crisis or who want and accept services. Instead, these efforts are intended to hold people causing harm to communities or others accountable and to help those in crisis who want help. Upcoming efforts to support this work include: 

  • Police Staffing Improvements: San Francisco’s Police Academy is on track for its best graduating year since before the pandemic. 
    • Currently, three classes are underway at the Academy and the next graduation is in next month in February.  
    • A fourth class is scheduled to begin in the Spring. 
  • Faster Hiring Process: San Francisco has made significant changes to the recruiting and hiring process, and added year-round Police Academies to eliminate bureaucratic delays. 
  • Automated License Plate Readers Rolling Out: The City plans to install 400 new cameras at 100 different intersections to target retail theft, burglaries, sideshows, and other investigations beginning in the spring. 
  • Use of Technology and Civilian Staff to Cut Administrative Time and Boost Patrol Time: San Francisco is prioritizing eliminating redundant reporting, allowing officers to use technology to reduce time spent on administrative work and more time on active patrols. By finding and implementing solutions to better support alternative first responder options for non-violent incidents, such as the Street Crisis Response Team, Police Service Aides and Reserve Police Officers, this will boost officers’ capacity for patrol and investigation.