Suhr: Gun violence on the streets of San Francisco not OK

June 28, 2012 6:23:45 PM PDT
As the murder rate in San Francisco spikes, the mayor is looking toward other cities and their programs to reduce the violence at home. Among them, a controversial one that has raised the ire of civil rights advocates.

It has been a bad month for murders in the city of San Francisco, and Mayor Ed Lee is clearly frustrated. Guns are being used in most of those murders. Lee wants those guns off the streets and he wants a program that will cops get it done.

In just 10 hours Thursday, San Francisco police arrested 68 suspects wanted on warrants. The multi-agency operation also confiscated dozens of firearms.

"Any level of gun violence on the streets of San Francisco is not OK," Police Chief Greg Suhr said.

The city has experienced a drop in violent crime for the past four years, but now the murder rate is spiking. There were 28 homicides in the first five months of this year. But so far in June, there have already been 10 murders.

"Every morning for the last two weeks I wake up to texts of who got murdered," Mayor Ed Lee said. Lee wants the killings to stop, and he's willing to look at programs other cities are using to stem violence, including one that New York City and several other cities have implemented called stop-and-frisk.

The program has fueled controversy and protests because it enables police to stop and search people for weapons. The ACLU has filed lawsuits against the practice. "The New York City stop-and-frisk program has almost become a code word for racial profiling and it's a policy that has failed," the ACLU's Alan Schlosser said.

Suhr says his department has strong policies against racial profiling. He responded to a question about stop-and-frisk this way: "We do not use that program here. Again, all our detentions in San Francisco are based on reasonable suspicion."

The mayor says he's aware of the charge of racial profiling in stop-and-frisk. "Yes, there are violations and maybe we can do better and I will seek that advice as well," Lee said.

That advice, the mayor says, will come from meetings with community and religious leaders, particularly in the southern part of the city where most of the violence is occurring.


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