Saturday, August 23, 2008

Oakland Chinatown and the Mission in San Francisco

For our patrol today we traveled to Oakland again to assist the Oakland chapter with patrolling StreetFest in Chinatown. We've gone to Oakland now three weeks in a row as the city tries to get a handle on the string of takeover robberies happening in local restaurants.

The weather was warm and the event well-attended and everyone was having a good time with families and locals enjoying the festival. However, after patrolling for a couple hours we noticed that a public pervert was following women around and taking pictures of their backsides. We first noticed him when he followed a woman in a mini-skirt for a while taking lots of pictures. We decided to follow him to keep an eye on him and after he took pictures of two little girls we alerted the police.

I told an Oakland police officer what was happening and pointed the man out in the crowd. He was white, late 30's to early 40's, wearing a black short sleeve shirt and black pants. Next time we encounter a public pervert I'll try and get a picture to post here.

The man seemed to sense we were onto him as he quickly walked away and disappeared into the crowd. We kept looking for him though and found him a while later. He had bought a hat to try and disguise himself and we pointed him out to the Oakland police again and officers set off to follow him and take the appropriate action. After that, the entire patrol got lunch and talked about future plans in Oakland. We patrolled a few more hours, and then the San Francisco members headed back to SF while the others stayed in Oakland to patrol until 1 AM tonight.

As we still had a few hours of daylight left, we took BART to 24th and Mission to do a quick patrol through the Mission district, which is our regular patrol area. We frequently clear alleys of used syringes, dope cookers, and broken bottles along with breaking up drug traffic and public drinking.

Shortly after leaving the 24th St. BART station and walking down Mission, we noticed two individuals getting ready to do a drug deal so we posted up against the wall of a business directly in front of the dealers. They immediately got into a car and drove off while looking back at us. We continued on to clear Travis Alley, which was unusually clean of used drug needles, but as we were leaving the alley we saw two young women running down the street. We found out they had just done a "grab and run" from Foot Locker and had made off with several T-shirts and other merchandise. We went to look for them and asked people on the street, but we were unable to locate them.

We continued on and headed up Mission to clear Alioto Park. Frequently, drug dealers/users and Johns soliciting prostitutes will use local parks to do drugs or receive sexual services in. We often encounter people in Alioto Park who were doing drugs or about to do drugs, and we make them leave so that families and local residents can enjoy the park as it was meant to be used. Today it was clean, so we continued on to Kid Power Park just around the corner from 16th and Mission. Kid Power Park was created in partnership with the SF Guardian Angels and the city of San Francisco. It was clean and full of families and kids enjoying the day, so we went on to clear Hunter's Alley.

Hunter's Alley is almost always littered with used needles, aluminum cans that have been used to cook heroin, broken bottles, feces and plenty more. Oftentimes, we come across people who are passed out to such an extent that it's hard to tell if they're alive, so we check to make sure they are still breathing. After walking the alley we found four used needles and one used cooker. We dispose of the needles by putting them in a portable container from the SF Needle Exchange and returning the container to the SF Needle Exchange for clean and safe disposal. Junkies in need of a fix will often pick up used needles wherever they can find them in order get their fix, so removing the used needles helps prevent the spread of disease. Junkies also dispose of used needles in public areas, including a strip of land next to a school in the Mission district, so we remove those needles also to keep them out of the reach of kids.

After Hunter's Alley we waited for the bus at 16th and Mission, only to come across a group of guys drinking at the BART station. We told them they cannot drink in public and that they needed to leave and take it somewhere else. They were already intoxicated, but complied and left the area. Public transportation areas in San Francisco, especially the 16th and 24th St. BART stops, are often used by people to drink alcohol or smoke weed or crack, so we monitor those areas regularly.

After we made those guys take their drinking elsewhere we took the bus back and called it a day.

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