Police commisioner: S.F. murder rate will get worse before it gets better

With six homicides in San Francisco reported by police already this year, Commissioner Joe Veronese estimates that “this is going to get worse before it gets better.”

The San Francisco Police Department will present some grim statistics on the city's rising homicide rate in 2007 to the Police Commission this evening, among them rising numbers in deaths of black and Latino men.

San Francisco's homicide total increased to 98 last year – up from 85 in 2006 – with nearly three-quarters of the victims black or Latino men, according to statistics released by Lt. John Murphy of the department's homicide detail.

The number of black men murdered in the city rose from 44 in 2006 to 47 in 2007, while the number of Latino men killed jumped from 16 in 2006 to 24 in 2007.

The majority of homicides took place in the city's Bayview, Ingleside and Mission districts, and guns were used in approximately 75 percent of the city's homicides.

Of the 98 victims in San Francisco, 65 had adult criminal records, police reported.

Motives for most of the homicides were attributed to arguments, drugs and gang violence.

Police made 50 arrests in connection with homicides in 2007 and were able to close 38 of the 2007 homicides cases, according to the report.

Several members of the Police Commission expressed serious concern at last week's meeting that more measures are needed to address homicides in San Francisco.

Commission President Theresa Sparks said community support for police and innovation in community policing were keys to reducing violence.

Sparks also recommended police give more publicity to the department's witness protection program, and that police and the San Francisco District Attorney's office work more closely.

“At times in the past, there has been some finger-pointing” between the two groups, she said.

“There needs to be a real plan,” Veronese said. 

He called for an “aggressive program” to reduce homicides and recommended police work with neighborhood religious leaders to establish community groups that can talk with police.

“The community listens to religious leaders,” Veronese said.

The Police Commission meeting takes place at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.

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