What's behind San Francisco's murder rate drop

There has been a record-low number of murders in San Francisco this year, so ABC7 News looks at what's behind the change.
May 2, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
As far as anyone can remember, there has been a record-low four murders in San Francisco so far this year, but that's not the case elsewhere. In Oakland there have been 29 murders so far and San Jose saw 13 homicides since January. ABC7 News looks at some reasons for the drop in San Francisco.

So far this year, San Francisco police have seized more than 100 guns, many of them assault rifles from the streets.

San Francisco Deputy Chief Hector Sainez said "We've done a good job recovering them, using video technology, social media, again the community coming forward."

Police say that's one of the reasons why the city's homicide rate has plummeted. Since January, there have been four murders. Compare that to last year at this time when there were 11. In 2012, 20 people were killed in the first four months of the year.

Former gang leader Shawn Richard founded Brothers Against Guns. He notices a different attitude among the young people he counsels. Richard told ABC7 News, "They see something different for themselves and a lot of them know an early grave is not what's in place for them."

Police say their focus on violent crimes is another reason for the phenomenal decline in the murder rate. They're relying on COMPSTAT -- a computer generated crime tracking system to pinpoint where a violent crime occurs. Special violence reduction units are deployed to the so-called "red zones."

"If they're rival gangs, we immediately saturate both locations so that we prevent retaliation and prevent continued violence," said Sainez.

There also appears to be a closer relationship now among city officials, police and community leaders. Frances Luster, who lost her son Kofi to gunfire, believes that is a primary reason for the drop. She told ABC7 News, "I believe we're working a little closer, taking a look at the whole picture. I believe that's one of the reasons we're making a difference."

The surprising thing is that the murder rate has dropped dramatically even though the police department is down by more than 300 officers.


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