San Francisco police say spike in murders will level off 

More than double the number of murders have occurred this year compared to the same time frame last year, but on Thursday, a San Francisco police captain insisted the bloodshed will level off.

The uptick in killings is raising concern and prompting calls from several members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to do more to fight crime.

But police Capt. Michael Biel told the board’s Public Safety Committee the killings are unrelated and do not represent a specific crime wave. Biel said only one of the 11 homicides committed so far this year has been gang-related. Most of the rest, he said, involved social acquaintances and ongoing disputes over money or drugs.

Most recently, a Fisherman’s Wharf merchant was arrested in connection with the Sunday fatal shooting of two business rivals. The same night, a man was killed in Potrero Hill after an argument over a cell phone, police said.

“We’re doing everything we can to monitor it,” Biel said. “We also have to take into consideration for the last two years we have enjoyed the lowest homicide rate we have ever had in the last four years.”

In 2009, there were 45 homicides and last year there were 50.

But Biel is optimistic, saying, “I believe we will be back down to where we should be” when the stats are examined at the six-month mark.

So far this year, there have been 11 recorded homicides. In 2009 at this time, there were five. Biel said the Police Department is adding extra patrols in crime hot spots.

“I’m not saying that 11 is good,” Biel said. “It’s not good at all — unacceptable.”

But the explanations around the homicides did not allay some supervisors’ concerns.  

“I don’t think that the level of community policing is where it needs to be,” Supervisor David Campos said. “Whether it’s foot patrols or just, generally, community engagement, I think we can definitely do a much better job.”

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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