I've mongered (SW) in Oakland and Berkeley about 70-80 times over the last 15 years and have always been pretty cautious. So from developing good "radar" for trouble and keeping to certain practices, I had only one close brush with Oakland Police (pulled up behind me as a girl was walking over to talk to me)--he let me drive off. That was years ago.
Six months ago I was driving SP (in Berkeley) and went brain-dead from being horny and despite the fact that the cops were crawling all over San Pablo ave and I SMELLED trouble, I picked up a girl and the sirens blared a few seconds later. Thank god the cop let me go with a threat about what would happen "next time", but not after I had to hear a lot of crap about how dangerous it was, being asked if I was married and so on. Yeah buddy I already know all of this, now go catch some people doing violent crimes and stop wasting my tax dollars. The girl went off in the squad car. I guess it pays to be born with the right skin color, or because I had no priors--or maybe I just nodded my head and said "yes, sir" to everything and he liked that--who knows. I got damn lucky considering what they're doing in Oakland.
Well I've always stuck to SP ave in Oakland/Berkeley with an occasional foray to International blvd, but after that incident I cooled my jets for a while. One night I said, what the hell, Richmond Flats is a pretty bad place to be, especially at night--lots of crime and poverty there--bound to be some SWs. Sorry to sound cynical, but you guys know what the deal is. So I drove around for awhile in the wee hours to scope it out. First thing is, this is not a place you want to go and have your car break down. You really don't want to be walking around there or stuck there, so be warned. But every time I have gone there (well, 4 times), I have found action--AND--cheaper than Oakland/Berkeley. I think that's because so many people just won't set foot in that place because of its reputation, but the girls there are no less desperate for green. Action is parsed out more thinly and over a larger area than in Oakland and Berkeley, but you can find it if you are willing to drive a while. I still have yet to really get a good sense of where the best places are but in general the area around 23rd and MacDonald is a good place to start (ironically its close to the police station). Go up and down MacDonald and on 23rd--all the way to San Pablo (city) and back, and then try a few streets parallel to those in either direction. The rule of thumb is if you get into a residential area, you probably won't find anything. Stay in commercial districts.
I really can't comment on the police situation but you don't hear much about that in Richmond, and my theory is that they just have WAY more serious crimes to worry about, or they don't care much about the SW thing. Or maybe I just haven't been caught. Can't say. Anyone else with info on this scene please chime in.