Amid a rising homicide rate and a recent spate of violence, supervisors are questioning the San Francisco Police Department’s flexibility in responding to crime hot spots.
So far this year, 54 homicides have taken place, compared with 45 at the same time last year. Since July 1, at least 15 people have been shot and six stabbed.
At the Police Commission meeting Wednesday night, police Lt. John Murphy identified an increase in drug-related violence as a trend. He pointed to a cluster of homicides in the downtown and South of Market areas, which he said are popular haunts for out-of-town drug dealers.
In 2006, the Board of Supervisors passed legislation requiring police officers to walk beats in neighborhoods citywide. Police Chief Heather Fong and Mayor Gavin Newsom opposed the bill, calling it micro-management of Police Department personnel.
In June, in response to rising gun violence, the Police Department added extra officers to patrol the Western Addition, where seven juveniles were injured by gunfire in two related incidents.
“The deployment of additional resources in those areas has been effective, based upon the numbers that we’re seeing,” Sgt. Mikail Ali, of the Gang Task Force, said at Monday’s meeting of the Board of Supervisors Public Safety Committee. “Unfortunately, the pie is only so large. In addressing those areas where we’ve had hot spots, we’ve essentially had to take resources from other areas in order to combat [violence].”
Police did not provide information on which areas of The City they are now focusing enforcement.
Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who represents the Western Addition, questioned the department’s response Wednesday.
“We don’t have any clarity if that’s [extra enforcement] happening in our part of The City or in other parts because the gun violence appears to be outpacing law enforcement’s ability to stem its tide,” Mirkarimi said.
At Monday’s meeting, Supervisor Bevan Dufty criticized the department’s resource deployment. “We’ve had shootings take place in areas, and then we don’t see personnel there,” he said.
On Wednesday, police spokesman Sgt. Neville Gittens pointed to flexible response teams such as the Gang Task Force, the staff of which was recently increased.
“It’s not unlimited, but we do have officers that we can move around according to what we see is going on,” Gittens said.
Mayor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday pointed to poverty as the underlying cause of the violence and pledged to rebuild public housing projects as a way of improving the conditions of those living in poverty.
A bloody month in The City so far
Summer has brought a surge in violent crime in The City, with more robberies and shootings, according to police records.
An unofficial daily police crime recap shows that 15 shootings, at least one of which was fatal, have occurred since July 1. Also, 22 robberies have taken place, 17 of which involved firearms. Six stabbings occurred, at least one of which was fatal. A fight between two groups ended in a shooting near the Ferry Building, after which police arrested 23-year-old Marcus Fayette of San Francisco.
A string of shootings in the Bayview area apparently stemmed from a Fourth of July fight between two rival San Francisco gangs at the Raging Waters theme park in San Jose.
A source within the San Francisco Police Department said the fight involved the Oakdale Mob and rival Big Block and B and T gangs. The source indicated that retaliatory shootings followed, including a shooting Saturday on Oakdale Avenue, the site of an injunction against the Oakdale Mob. There was also a shooting at Third and Newhall streets Sunday, then a fatal shooting at Third Street and LaSalle Avenue on Monday, all connected with the Raging Waters incident, the source said.
Staff Writer BonnieEslinger contributed to this report.
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