Police target dealers near Haight-Ashbury

Police at the station that patrols Golden Gate Park and the Haight-Ashbury have increased their patrol by plainclothes officers in an effort to crack down on crimes committed by people who regularly go there looking to score drugs or target potential robbery victims, the station’s captain said.

Last week, a man who was taking photographs of the park near the Haight-Ashbury entrance was approached by six young adults who demanded his camera, according to police reports. One of the suspects kicked the man and grabbed the camera, while the others reached through his pockets and grabbed money. When the victim attempted to get his possessions back, another assailant mimicked having a gun underneath his shirt, which the victim took to be real, according to police reports of the Aug. 11 incident.

A bystander who witnessed the event sprang to action and chased down the suspects, eventually corralling the one who stole the camera, according to the report. After a brief struggle, the witness wrestled back the camera and returned it to the robbery victim.

Based on the description given by the witness and the victim, police from nearby Park Station were able to arrest two of the six suspects and charge them with robbery.

Teresa Barrett, captain of Park Station, described the six suspects as “young thugs,” all between 17 and 20 years old. She said groups like that from all over the Bay Area congregate at the section of Golden Gate Park near Haight-Ashbury. The groups are there to get drugs and will steal to support their habit, Barrett said.

“We have a lot of new officers at the station that will dress up as street kids and perform what we call a buy and bust down there,” Barrett said. “They’ll go there with uniformed officers and after a drug deal is completed, a nearby officer will make the arrest.”

Barrett said her group holds monthly meetings to locate “hot spots” for crime in Golden Gate Park. Often these meetings involve key input from the Recreation and Park Department, which deploys 16 park rangers citywide.

The rangers assist police officers in cases ranging from underage drinking to assault and robbery, department spokesman Elton Pon said.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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