Police search for answers to combat growing homicide rate

With homicides on the rise, all arms of law enforcement in The City are facing heavy criticism.

Since January of this year, there have been a total of 57 murders, according to police. Last year, there were 94 murders, up from 88 in 2004 and 69 in 2003, according to reports.

San Francisco police Capt. Kevin Cashman said that of the 56 victims counted as of Wednesday — one homicide occurred Thursday night — the 43 adult victims with arrest records shared a total of 732 felonies and 508 misdemeanor charges, for an average of 17 felonies per homicide victim. He added that the data was not released to “sully the reputation of the victims,” but to help police assess the problem, and blamed the deaths on the “criminal justice system.”

“They have obviously not been rehabilitated enough to keep them out of harm’s way,” Cashman said.

District Attorney Kamala Harris said she didn’t believe the current prison system was capable of rehabilitating offenders, noting that 60 percent of felons released from state prisons return within three years.

“The only changed circumstance is they’ve been institutionalized, and we expect that they’ll live a crime-free life,” said Harris, who called The City’s growing number of homicides a “complicated issue.”

While five new homicides have happened in San Francisco in the last seven days, police have also made several arrests in older cases.

Demora Henderson, 28, was arrested Thursday for allegedly killing 27-year-old Rufino Gutierrez in the Ingleside area on Feb. 4. Esau Ferdinand, 24, was also picked up, but not yet formally charged, as a suspect in the murder of Donte White, 22, who was gunned down April 27 in a Western Addition community center where he worked.

On Wednesday, two women, Kimberly Gutierrez and Felicia Mehrara, both 18, were arrested in connection with the 2004 shooting death of 26-year-old Eugene Gorenman, who was found at Fort Funston.

Ferdinand’s attorney, Eric Safire, said his client was wrongly picked up in the recent roundup of arrests.

“It seems like yesterday was a big day to show that they’re doing something,” Safire said.

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