City officials are bandying about two ideas sure to get a lot of folks’ juices flowing — one, a program to track the IDs of nightclub patrons and the other, a plan to jail shoplifters, even if there’s no chance they’ll face trial. (And right here’s where I’d be making a 1984 joke but, damnit, SFist beat me to it. So how about a Brazil joke? Nah, too nerdy.)

According to the Ex, SF’s Entertainment Commission is looking for ways to combat nightclub violence like the fatal shooting in a Marina club last week, another shooting in a Potrero Hill club last month, and a shooting outside a SoMa club in August.

They’re, says the Ex, taking a look at technology that could be used to collect patrons’ information, such as name, date of birth and time of club visit. The SFPD’s all for it, reportedly recommending “a requirement that the identification of everyone at events of more than 100 people be scanned and the data stored for at least 15 days.”

The Ex admits that “concerns about violations of civil rights are likely to quash any such proposal.” But if city officials are looking for a way to keep someone like me, who gets pissed off when the Container Store asks for my phone number, out of bars, well, they got themselves a winner right there.

SFPD’s considering another program, this one to manage shoplifters, which are apparently out of control at places like the Market Street and Potrero Center Safeway stores and the entire Westfield San Francisco Centre.

But here’s the thing — according to the Ex, when shoplifters are caught, SFPD doesn’t bother to come pick them up because the DA’s office won’t prosecute the case. Said SFPD Assistant Chief Jeff Godown at Wednesday’s CompStat meeting, “(o)ne of the biggest issues we have is that we put in a lot of time putting cases together and you’re laughing the whole time because you know the D.A. is not going to rebook the case.”

So, now, the Ex says, “police are looking to put shoplifters in jail whether or not prosecutors will take on the case, saving time on the paperwork involved.” They compare this to protesters arrested, jailed, then released with a ticket, or drunk drivers, who can spend the night in jail before being released.

Public Defender Jeff Adachi thinks this is a great idea! OK, not really. Actually, he “questioned the wisdom of jailing people for petty theft with no intention of charging them,” calling it “a scared-straight policy of arresting people when in most incidents they would only get a citation.”

In both cases, these ideas are just that — ideas, at least for now. The Take Shoplifters To Jail idea is in the hands of an SFPD “work group that would explore the option” and the discussion on how Bars Can Scan Your ID was, an Entertainment Commissioner said, “informational.”

the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at

Please make sure your comment adheres to our comment policy. If it doesn't, it may be deleted. Repeat violations may cause us to revoke your commenting privileges. No one wants that!