Crime-fighting tactics pay off for San Francisco 

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Citing continued “historic lows” in San Francisco crime last year, Mayor Ed Lee and police Chief Greg Suhr said Tuesday that focused anti-crime efforts and community engagement had contributed to a 6 percent drop in violent crimes.

Police credited a new task force-style response to violent crimes implemented after Suhr took office in April.

After a homicide, shooting or other violence, the Police Department not only investigates the crime, but also sends violence-reduction teams or gang task force members to the neighborhood in an effort to prevent retaliation, Deputy Chief Kevin Cashman said.

“We’re seeing a dramatic drop in gang crimes,” he said.

A focus on fugitive apprehension, drug enforcement and firearms seizures netted 660 arrests in the
4½ months after Suhr took office, Cashman said.

Citywide, violent crime dropped 6 percent from 2010, and 18 percent from 2008.

“Our goal is for San Francisco to be the safest big city in America, and the men and women of the SFPD, in partnership with our communities, are committed to this end,” Suhr said.

There were 50 homicides in San Francisco in 2011, which equaled the number in 2010 — the lowest rate since the 1960s, according to police data released by the Mayor’s Office.

Aggravated assaults, robberies, rapes and burglaries decreased citywide, the data showed. Property crimes, however, increased 3 percent over 2010.

“Violent crime in San Francisco remains at historic lows because of stronger community partnerships, targeted approaches to violent crime and aggressive crime-prevention strategies,” Lee said.

The improvements came amid “tough economic times” for The City, Lee said.

Police continue to report a large number of thefts, especially of personal electronic devices and items left in clear view in cars, and they are trying to educate the public.

“It’s very frustrating because a lot of them can be prevented,” Cmdr. Mike Biel said.

aburack@sfexaminer.com

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