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Rising homicide count a ‘major concern’ for SFPD

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Officials with the Medical Examiner’s Office transport a body that was found in a pond near 41st Avenue and Martin Luther King Way San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park Wednesday, March 2, 2016. (Jessica Christian/2016 S.F. Examiner)
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San Francisco’s homicide count continues to rise, totalling 45 by the first week of September, according to San Francisco Police Chief William Scott.

Comparatively, the department counted 30 homicides at the same time last year. At a Police Commission hearing on Wednesday, Scott said the upward trend is a “major concern” for his department.

“Even taking out the tragedy at UPS, we are still up,” Scott said, referring to the June 14 shooting at a Potrero Hill UPS facility in which an employee killed three colleagues before turning the gun on himself. “We know some [homicides] are gang-related, but many of them are not. Many of them are just people that had disputes that got out of hand and resulted in loss of life.”

The beginning of the month saw the hottest day on record, as well as several shootings. On Sept. 2, police responded to two shootings in the Mission District and one in the Potrero Hill that left five people injured and that are believed to be connected, according to Scott.

On Sept. 3, three separate shootings were reported in the Mission, Potrero Hill and South of Market neighborhoods, sending three people to hospitals.

Regardless, The City saw a slight decrease in non-fatal shootings in the past year, Scott said, counting 99 in September, down from 110 at the same time last year.

Scott said his officers have seized 722 firearms this year to date, compared with 1,216 firearms seized by this time last year.

“Going at the pace we are going at, we will either meet that or exceed that this year,” Scott said about the firearm seizures. “Part of our strategy in preventing some of these shootings from occurring is to lawfully take as many guns off the streets as we can.”

Police will also significantly increase the number of foot beat patrol officers deployed throughout The City by trimming officers from other units, Scott said. About 150 officers have been assigned to foot beats citywide, almost doubling the some 80 foot beat officers deployed previously.

“We had to cut some units to make it happen. What we need right now collectively is to have those officers out in uniform, [who are] present, [who] get to know their communities. They can prevent a lot of things from happening,” Scott said.

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