SF crime down in first part of the year

April 2, 2009 7:12:33 PM PDT
Mayor Gavin Newsom shared San Francisco's latest crime stats with members of the Ingleside police station. So far this year, crime overall is down nearly 20 percent from the same period last year.

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Police department numbers indicate there were 11 homicides the first three months of this year, a nearly 61 percent drop. Rapes are down 24 percent; there were 750 robberies, an 18 percent decline and there has been a 30 percent decrease in car break-ins.

"There are still too many shootings, there's still too many stabbings, there's still too much violent crime and property crimes in the city and county of San Francisco, but these statistics bear out some positive trends, Newsom said.

There are several reasons for the encouraging numbers, including Shot Spotter technology, which pinpoints the location of gunshots.

"We are getting on the scene much quicker, we are therefore collecting evidence, perhaps getting suspects," Kevin Ryan, of the mayor's criminal justice office, said.

Another factor has been the zone policing strategy the city switched to last year, saturating five troubled neighborhoods with patrols.

"The minute things happen we are all talking to each other by phone, by Blackberry, to make sure we are redeploying and taking the actions that are necessary, San Francisco Police Chief Heather Fong said.

One of those hotspots is the Mission District. There have been no murders in the Mission in the last 90 days and only one in the last six months.

But in the Western Addition, some residents have not felt a drop in crime.

"There's still a lot of killings around here in the neighborhood, a lot of shootings," Will Purifoy said.

The police department is finally up to full staffing, which should help.

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