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Right from start, police recruits
take to the sidewalks

Police recruit Conor Sever
converses with a shop clerk
on L.A.'s Hollywood Boulevard

By Daniel B. Wood, The Christian Science Monitor

Republished with permission

November 18, 2005

HOLLYWOOD - With her factory-fresh police belt holding revolver, mace, two nightsticks, and one radio, Jeanine Giordano strides into Hollywood Star Market.

"Sir, we are just walking a foot beat up and down the street. ... I'm sure you've seen us," says the young police recruit to a Korean working behind displays of beef jerky and pen lighters. "If you have any problems or questions," she adds after a conversation, "go ahead and let us know."

The clerk's nervous frown melts into a broad smile.

Score one for the new attempt by the Los Angeles Police Department to repair one of the most tarnished, adversarial images of any police force in the country.

By pushing officers out of squad cars and onto sidewalks, many police departments have tried to reestablish ties to their communities. What's new about the LAPD's move, formally announced last week, is that it's starting from the bottom up: training new recruits to walk the beat.

The innocuous-sounding Community Interaction Program (CIP) - 50 graduate-ready recruits at a time who fan out across the city's most pedestrian-heavy crime areas - is a new twist on an old idea, courtesy of one of America's most innovative police chiefs. The story behind it clarifies, experts say, why many of law enforcement's own brass feel police often go awry.

"Police work started out as a foot beat in which officers got to know everyone, and worked on crime from the inside out, proactively and preventively," says Lieutenant Nick Zingo, of LAPD's training division.

That changed partly for economic reasons - cops in cars could cover more ground in growing cities - and also because of strategic shifts by many to mobile task forces used to get tough on entrenched urban crime.

"When [police] do nothing but respond to calls, everything the police see is negative and under high stress - suspects, witnesses, victims," says Zingo. "This [program] allows the police to establish relationships."

That's exactly what Ms. Giordano and her two fellow trainees, Conor Sever and Joseph Romo are doing. As three of 50 in the program's second class of trainees, they spend four weeks of eight-hour shifts walking Hollywood Boulevard, getting to know residents and business owners - and making arrests, if necessary.

"This is the real stuff, the stuff we've been waiting for," says Mr. Sever. The 28-year-old said he loved Academy training, but it was "like a laboratory." "We're finally dealing with real people and real concerns, seeing what affects them personally and helping them resolve their problems if we can." The trio made five felony arrests, including a drug bust and an in-progress car theft, in their first three weeks.

In the handful of precincts where the LAPD is trying CIP, daytime crime - petty theft, burglary, car theft, assault - in the target downtown and Hollywood areas has plummeted to nearly zero, according to Hollywood precinct Captain Michael Moriarty.

Many residents and business owners on Hollywood Boulevard are embracing the new program.

"I wish they had been doing this years ago," says lifetime Hollywood resident Trent McCoy. "Having a show of police on the streets really lowers the anxiety," he says.

Police watchdog groups nationwide are taking notice, too. They say despite the talk of new emphasis on community policing - which accelerated nationally after the beating of Rodney King here in 1991 - there has not been as much progress in the training and culture of police departments as they would have hoped.

Sending Giordano, Sever and Mr. Romo onto the foot beat in this formative stage in their police training is the inspiration of LAPD Chief William Bratton, who has been on the job since 2002. He earned a reputation for turning around the Boston and New York police departments. His novel ideas included analyzing crime reports geographically with central computers, deploying officers accordingly, and holding precinct chiefs accountable for crime.

But in Los Angeles, which has only one officer for every 429 residents (compared with 1 for every 218 in New York), the gains have been slower - the result of painstaking refinements.

In announcing the new program last week, Mr. Bratton recalled his first assignment as a rookie Boston officer, walking a business district in an all-black neighborhood.

"That experience changed the rest of my life," he said. Likewise, he wants the first experience of new LAPD officers to be "not in a black-and-white [police cruiser], not chasing radio calls, but the intimacy of face-to-face contact with people in the neighborhood."

Bratton also wants recruits to see the LAPD in a new light and change the perception many residents have of the force since the Rodney King beatings. Despite 14 years of investigations, federal oversight, new chiefs, and civilian boards, police abuse incidents continue: a 13-year-old boy shot and killed, a baby killed, and beatings caught on videotape.

"This city's police have made no progress in all that time," said Mary Alice Jones of the Congress of Racial Equality at a recent protest. "They ... ride roughshod through neighborhoods nestled in the cocoon of their police cars."

Many disagree with her assessment and attribute the city's recent falling crime rates to getting desk cops back out on the street and veteran officers into community patrol as well as coordinating with neighborhood watch groups.

In the past two years, violent crimes (rape, homicide, robbery, assault) have fallen about 29 percent and property crimes (burglary, car theft) have decreased by about 10 percent.

Some national experts see that the CIP program can help solidify the connection between a drop in the crime rate and improved police-community relations.

"There have been a whole host of ways that police departments have gone out of their way to get closer to the communities they serve, but they usually involved putting established cops back into foot beats," says Mary Powers, director of the National Coalition on Police Brutality. "That's not the same as teaching police from the outset that getting to know their community members, and fighting crime together is a superior way to go."


City community policing project
moves to stage two

Neighborhood stakeholders
to tailor district plan

Mayor Gavin Newsom at today's meeting with Citysafe stakeholders.
Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

By Pat Murphy

October 19, 2005

Police Chief Heather Fong presided yesterday over a meeting of all police district captains, community leaders, and city departments heads as the CitySafe community policing project moves into its second phase aimed at drawing larger resident involvement.

Police Chief Heather Fong
Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

The meeting occured on the heels of a spate of killings in the Bayview Hunters Point and Western Edition Districts over the weekend.

Deputy Chief of Staff Alex Tourk and Mayor Gavin Newsom opened the meeting with a rallying call to bring all resources to bear.

Alex Tourk emphasizes the importance
of getting all City resources on the same page.

"We're making progress and that's good, but it's not good enough",
explains Mayor Gavin Newsom

Lieutenant Con Johnson was named to coordinate the process of planning sessions held in all districts embracing as much community participation as possible, Fong said.

Lieutenant Con Johnson is well known
for his outreach to the community.

"In those districts, there are a number of different communities. So the key is not to include just those individuals who have been so helpful to us today…but to reach out to them

"What we want to insure is that…everyone has a plan and that plan is reflective and responsive to each district," Fong told the gathering.

The goal is to develop a community policing plan tailored to unique district needs.

"In those districts, there are a number of different communities. So the key is not to include just those individuals who have been so helpful to us today…but to reach out to them", for help in bringing additional district stakeholders to the table.

The first planning meeting for each district will be held in November, and foresees contribution by members of the Board of Supervisors representing each district.

"We need education, we need training, we need child care services - these are the things that our colleagues in City government can bring to the table…it is so important that this is not now a plan of one department - that says 'we can only do this' -- not just what the police department does."

Community leaders and Police Captains gather
in district team break-out sessions

"The teams have been formed now, and each of these teams will now develop plans in the neighborhoods. In each district there will be meetings to identify not only the concerns but the solutions that the community, as well as City government, will bring to the table to address," Fong added.

Coordinator Lieutenant Con Johnson may be reached at (415) 553-1303.


Baker Places - CitySafe Series

The mental health care component of CitySafe

Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

By Pat Murphy

Monday, September 26, 2006

The mutterers seem everywhere, and too close, oblivious to boundaries set by those capable.

Sheltered in a protective reality, they tighten the stomach of others who are competent to debate whether anyone really knows what time it is, anyway.

Frightening and heart rending, the mutterers are this beyond-the-box town's especially crazy.

Despite bliss of oblivion, their physical reality often is a danger to themselves, and troubling to those stuck less blissful.

The trouble is they sometimes hurt people, including themselves.

They also scare off carefree days, scare shoppers, and scare away tourists.

All done, largely neglected by society last century, without knowing their bliss became a damaging bother.

Ranks of the severely mentally disordered swelled San Francisco streets when state institutions closed in favor of local residential care facilities, then hailed as improving patient quality of life…and saving money.

Unfortunately, many of those residential care centers did not materialize, and the marginally mentally disordered swelled street ranks even more when Reagan-era decisions slashed federal subsidized housing funds by $14 billion.

Those decisions saved money, in hindsight penny wise and pound foolish, as concluded by breadth of San Francisco political landscape which last year universally endorsed supportive housing for the mentally ill as both humane and cost effective.

Today, continuation of that thought is an important component of CitySafe, the unfolding San Francisco project geared toward community policing and on-the-spot triage of all city and community services available.

Jonathan Vernick, chief of one of San Francisco's larger residential care providers for the mentally ill, yesterday endorsed the project with enthusiasm, and with a few caveats.

"My opinion is that Mayor Newsom really has been a catalyst in trying to bring together all sets of different communities in a very positive and in a very interactive way to get them to work better together," Vernick said.

However, streamlined coordination may come haltingly, he warned based on his experience with bureaucratic inertia.

"There're always issues that come up between people representing different issues in different arenas, and who think differently…and it takes some time to work in a collaborative way and work out the various requirements of your systems to fit with the other systems," Vernick reflected.

He serves as executive director of Baker Places, which house some 900 clients in a variety of residential programs tailored to treatment needs. Baker Places provide counseling to an additional 1,000 clients placed in hotels. Some 160 full time employees staff Baker Places, with an additional 60 relief personnel.

Vernick has led Baker Places since 1990, joining Baker Places in 1983 as a project director. Before joining Baker Places, Vernick worked from 1979 for Conard House, another San Francisco residential care provider for the mentally disordered.

Already familiar with centralized coordination through Baker Places participation in Project Homeless Connect, Vernick estimates 75% of clients entering Baker Places are homeless.

"For our housing support model, we thought one of the priorities should be the maintaining of housing," Vernick recalled.

Those moving from intensive residential care to cooperative apartments overseen by Baker Places are permitted to live there indefinitely, added Vernick, resulting in low relapse rate.

The concept of mental health care cooperative apartments was adopted by Bakers Places, Conard House, and the Progress Foundation - the third of San Francisco's largest residential mental health care providers - many years ago, Vernick said.

"We have found that if they have the opportunity to live by themselves, with just three to five other people, and have an ongoing relationship with a case manager that doesn't change…that really kind of mimics normal living," stated Vernick.

Case managers visit cooperative apartment clients from daily to once weekly, he reported.

"They can stay indefinitely, and the retention level is extremely high in that environment.

"So what I think is important that San Francisco continue to be able to offer a full menu of different kinds of environments for housing and treatment depending on the needs of the individual," continued Vernick.

Baker Places currently house from 60 to 100 clients in mental health care co-ops, and an additional 64 clients with alcohol and substance abuse issues.

Finding and leasing apartment stock is relatively easy, Vernick noted, while acquiring brick and mortar for intensive residential care is more time consuming and costly.

Purchase is often indicated by mortgage costs being lower than rent, Vernick explained.

And purchase of brick and mortar - perhaps on a substantial scale - may be necessary to deliver CitySafe popular vision.

As it is now, intensive residential care is delayed by waiting lists, and a sudden influx of new CitySafe referrals would increase the wait.

Due to state restrictions, intensive residential care facilities may hold no more than 16 beds. With larger client census, stabilization rate drop dramatically, Vernick noted as well.

Purchase cost for each such new facility could range from $900,000 to $1.5 million, he estimated.

New facility doors could open in eight to nine months with expedited Planning Department approval, envisioned Vernick.

New such housing, coming at the rate of 16 people housed per unit, won't come tomorrow - nor will it come with agreement on coordination protocol.


CitySafe: More cops walking beats now, full implementation awaits community input

Police Chief Heather Fond
details localization of CitySafe community policing.
Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

By Pat Murphy

Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Full benefits of CitySafe - the city and community effort to staunch violent crime - will be visible in late October or November, it emerged from interview with Police Chief Heather Fong last Friday.

Although that estimate was available from city officials when the project was announced August 5, length of time planned for implementation didn't stick in the public mind.

Coordinated real-time delivery of social services upon first police contact stuck.

Prosecuting drug sales in Federal Court for longer criminal removal from the community stuck.

But mostly, the promise of more cops walking neighborhood beats stuck - startling the range of community stakeholders with enthused sense of real possibility, from fed-up hardliners to root-cause sociologists.

Finally it seemed residents could cast off spirit killing sense of isolation, with everyone able to get involved effectively, as beat cops tomorrow looked crime in the face and laid out the options.

Tomorrow was too soon, whether expectation came from selective memory, or from reality understated in city announcement of CitySafe birth.

Yet, even as some rumblings bump up against return to cynicism, complexity of CitySafe implementation was well thought out, Fong said.

And even before full implementation, more cops are now walking beats which weren't walked before, stated Fong.

Right now, "I think that with the officers that we currently have,
we can cover some beats.
We can't cover all the beats all the time.

"But you can get out of your car for five, ten minutes and walk a few blocks. It's not designated as a beat, and somebody may not happen to be there at that time so they miss seeing you, but we told our officers and I know they are getting out of their cars.

"You're going to see that sustained consistency as some of the (new police recruit) classes that we've hired, or are scheduled to hire, are going out into the field," Fong predicted.

Some 200 new police recruits will graduate September 23, she added.

"Not that we can't do it now. We can do it now.

"But the more resources you have, the more visible it will be.

"When you think about our policing responsibilities, we have district sector cars, and we have beats.

"And we have to staff the sector cars first, because when the 911 call comes in, it's the officers in the sector car that will respond, or if there happens to be a beat officer there they will respond as well.

"So if the officers are in their sectors, in their radio cars, and they get out, even periodically as the General Order in field operations states, that's an important step, and the public will see some of that.

"The more officers we are able to deploy, once those radio cars are filled, then you can put more officers on beats for longer periods of time."

More seasoned police personnel, as well as newly hired recruits, will increase beat patrols, Fong reported.

"Those officers who graduate are assigned to the field training stations, which include Central, Southern, Bayview, Mission, Northern, Ingleside, and Tenderloin.

"So that class will go all to those stations, and with the increase of resources there, with the experience that we want all field training officers to go through, they (the public) will see additional beats…"

Community support for beat patrols can overcome wariness of some officers to mix with the public, continued Fong.

"If they're wary, I think that if only they would hear those comments that many members of the community are sharing: They say, 'Stay on our block. Don't go to the next block.'

"The positive feedback that they will get from the public will (make) them want to do even more outreach.

"This is something that I believe in, that I support, and that we're not going to rescind.

"You can't get to know people if you don't talk to them, if you just drive by.

A six-month officer sign-up for assignments goes into effect this week, after which Fong will provide geographic locations of beats, stated Fong, although keeping specific times out of public knowledge better deters criminal activity.

Resident neighborhood patrols, working in conjunction with police, is part of CitySafe development, continued Fong.

"In the past, this department has worked with members of the public to have citizen patrols, and I look forward to resurrecting that. I met recently with a community group and they said, 'You know, we miss doing that.'

"That's why it's so important that each district have this community based plan, where the community is a part of it."

That plan allows four to six weeks for community based social service agencies, and municipal agencies, to draft each agency contribution to community policing.

Each of the ten police district captains then will meet with those agency representatives, forwarding localized plans to Fong.

Two of the four lieutenants assigned to each police district will oversee final implementation, Fong said.

Those 20 lieutenants have been selected, and may present themselves in a press conference this week, a senior administration official reported.


Beat Patrols in Two Neighborhoods
Part II in a series on Community Policing

Pat Maguire recalls difference
in police and neighborhood relations
before and after foot patrols on La Playa
Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

By Pat Murphy

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

In a town where the citizenry is more wary of its police than some communities, and many officers feel and share that distance, it seems nothing is more popular than the vision of a first name cop walking the beat.

A sense of possibility, perceptibly replacing inertia, first engaged ordinary residents with homelessness progress through community bonding.

With the concept of Project Connect founded in ways for everyone to get involved, that energy, and Mayor Gavin Newsom's administration, strain toward ending sterility between police and neighborhoods.

The new effort, unfurled under banner of CITYSAFE, is a mighty undertaking.

It means to meld community based organizations, all city social services, policing, and prosecution, in real-time coordination of first police contact with citizens -- planned to end sterility through human touch.

District Attorney Kamala Harris,
Mayor Gavin Newsom,
District 5 Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi,
and Police Chief Heather Fong,
shown embracing CITYSAFE.

Begun only this month, on August 5, the component most capturing the public mind is that of a friendly cop on a beat, maybe not twirling a nightstick and looking for a free apple, but a person with a badge who knows the names of your kids, when you went into business, who can deliver help for the needy, steer hope for the troubled, vanquish violence, and make a joyous town more free to enjoy.

The difference is black and white in attitude toward the police in neighborhoods with beat patrols, and communities with only radio car patrols.

On the West Side, Pat Maguire has known both.

"We always felt like the police don't help, so there was like a bad relationship.

"We always gave the police car the middle finger," said native San Franciscan Maguire. He has operated Java Beach at 1396 La Playa for thirteen years.

Officer Mike Mitchell has walked a beat in Maguire's neighborhood for two months.

"Now the relationship is so much better. I mean the people out here love the police," Maguire added.

"It really changes the face of the Police Department."

"He gets to know the difference between good homeless people, bad homeless people, good business people, bad business people.

"It's another way to get to know that people don't live in categories. People are individuals. They get to know that."

The beat patrol came about through insistent request from several neighborhood groups, and a receptive Police Captain, Keith Sanford, Maguire recalled.

Keith Sanford

The sense of community strengthened.

Neighbors pitched in to clean up, and re-landscape a local park, costing "the city not a cent," Maguire stated. And they prevailed on city agencies to clean up the park restrooms.

Unannounced visit reveals whistle clean restroom
once strewn with drug paraphernalia

Respect for beat officer Mitchell was seen in a recent incident recalled by lifetime resident Ray Siri.

Breaking up a large fight, Mitchell became pinned to a garage as combatants started to lower the garage door on Mitchell, Siri recalled. Local residents interevned to Mitchell's assistance.

Siri also saw benefit of human touch in Supervisor Fiona Ma's outreach, who represents Siri's neighborhood.

"What she's doing right here. Talking to me. I've seen her talking to people all over the place."

Ray Siri surveys neighborhood improvement
with District 4 Supervisor Fiona Ma

Officer Lewis Fong has walked a beat on the outer Irving Street merchant strip for close to a year. He formerly walked the beat for five years, when lean economic times put him back in a patrol car. Community effort prevailed in his return to foot patrol.

"It's pretty much for the communities, for the businesses. We get to know people on a personal basis, whereas in a patrol car we're pretty much sent from run to run. It's not as personable," Fong said..

Officer Lewis Fong

Local Walgreen's manager Trinh Quyuen ,
who grew up in the neighborhood,
noted, "people feel safer now."

Again, perception was starkly different in how Iriving Street neighbors view police on the beat, and police in patrol cars.

Irving Street neighborhood resident Ludmilla Brott

"It's great around here," said 25-year resident Ludmilla Brott who was shopping on Irving Street.

Brott lives a few blocks off Irving Street, where she sees police quite differently.

"There's never a policeman around except to give you a ticket. We get very little support or help."


Police Officers Association president backs foot patrols
But you get what you pay for

POA President Gary Delagnes
believes community cops walking beats
is, 'a tremendous program', but adds, '...you get what you pay for.'
Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

By Pat Murphy

Monday, August 29, 2005

Community policing, a term that remained vague over the decades due to lack of fruition, gained ambitious definition this month by Mayor Newsom's launch of CITYSAFE.

Rebooting all city and community social services to work hand-in-hand with police comprise the effort, but its universally agreed foundation remains elusive.

Cops walking the streets.

Soon it will be one month since Newsom, with Police Chief Heather Fong's full backing, unveiled the plan and already there are rumblings of hollow promise.

Impatience in not seeing officers exchange first names with residents, as they stroll neighborhoods, feeds skepticism.


Yet, one police voice agrees cops on foot patrol would be ideal.

"In an ideal world, where we can get lots of cops out there riding bicycles and walking beats, I think it's a great concept," Gary Delagnes said. Delagnes serves as president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association (POA).

He notes Fong's order under CITYSAFE directs officers to leave patrol cars for foot beats...when they can, yet short staffing renders that not often.

"This is in no way a criticism of the chief, because she's doing the best she can with the personnel she has," Delagnes continued.

"In an effort to keep some of the high crime areas fully staffed, for example the Bayview, the Northern District, the Mission District, Tenderloin, a lot of times they've had to rob Peter to pay Paul.

"So to keep those districts as fully staffed as they can, they've really shorted the other districts, the outlying districts like the Richmond, the Taraval, and the Central which is down in North Beach...

"For example, Park Station...fully staffed in the old days they'd have about a hundred cops. Right now they only have about 60.

"They could have one, two cars running at any given time for the entire district, and that encompasses all of Haight Street.


"The people who really end up suffering in this deal is not so much the serious crimes in progress...shooting in progress, rape in progress, serious burglary, robbery, you know people just drop everything and go. The people who are hurt are the people who have their car vandalized, or somebody calls and says 'hey, you know I just got beat up on the corner of Haight and Ashbury and I'm not seriously hurt but I want to make a police report,' with priority runs that guy might be standing there for hours and those are the ones who really suffer.

"The first priority for any police department is to handle calls for service, in my opinion. The second priority for any police department is to interact with the community as much as possible.

"I think if you've got enough personnel to take care of number one and number two, I think community policing is a tremendous program.

"They've tried to do some things that I think are good. One of the things, they ask the cops to park the car and walk up and down the streets when they're able to do that.

"Some of these cops are handling 25 or 30 runs a night. Now if you're handling 25 runs in a ten-hour period, and then write police reports, a good police report, that's your day."


"Our guys can't get a day off.

"They have to provide an 80% staffing level...so some guy walks in and says 'My sister's getting Sunday. Can I get the day off?'


"We're seeing that all the time now because they have to maintain 80% levels."


Sufficient police personnel to deliver priority patrol car coverage and knowing the neighborhood cop by name and by trust -- would be assured with addition of 400 more police officers, Delagnes estimated.

For budgeting purposes, said Delagnes, addition of each officer should be averaged at $125,000 annually.

Total cost of $50 million per year would raise the current Police budget from approximately $210 million to $260 million, Delagnes reported.


The city effectively loses on-duty officer service when tied to hospital custody, as some of those arrested require medical attention.

Delagnes cited abscesses as the common reason for medical care.

"We probably lose 50 to 70 hours a day on patrol because we're tied up at the hospital...that's something that the Sheriff's Department should be doing."


"Oakland started to go federally on their drug cases.

"What happens federally on their drug cases? There's no bullshit on plea-bargaining, there's no bullshit on walking out the door, and a slap on the hand and 'don't do it again.'

"They say, federally, sorry fellah you're gone, a 123 months."

San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris has invoked federal prosecution in recent months.

"Kamala gets it. Kamala is a good prosecutor," Delagnes reflected.

"Now we had our problems on the Isaac Espinoza thing. That was a fair dispute on the death penalty, but she is a prosecutor and she knows what to do and how to do it, and we're seeing a marked improvement in prosecutions in San Francisco on drug crimes."

"I think the mayor gets it...the need to clean up the streets, but you've got another big problem in this city that never takes responsibility for anything -- the judges.


"The District attorney will go up to the judge and say 'Hey your honor, you know this is the fourth offense for this person, this is the fourth time they've been caught selling drugs by an undercover police officer in a year, that we believe they should get at least a year in prison.'

"Nope, drug court. Nope, extend their parole.

"They walk right out the door. They do it again.

"It's a joke."


"Got a call yesterday from my narcotics guys. They had a guy that lives in San Francisco and has a place in Oakland. He's got two open cases, which means he's been arrested twice in San Francisco for sales of drugs and didn't show up.

"So there's a warrant out for him, for failure to appear, two drug sales cases.

"They lure him in, and he comes into the city from Oakland, and he's got eight ounces of crack.

"They arrest him.

"They put him in jail. Hold him. And they get a search warrant for his house in Oakland.

"They go over to Oakland, and they find three pounds -- that's a kilo and a half -- of crack cocaine.

"They take him to city prison, and they book him. You know what city prison did with him?

"They cited him out, because they didn't have the personnel in intake.

"This guy walked out of city prison with a citation in his hand, with almost four pounds of crack cocaine."

Contact Gary Delagnes at gary@sfpoa.org.


Mirkarimi sees start of covenant to relieve root cause of deadly violence

Western Addition civic leader Mary Rogers
says, 'they're doing right.'
Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

By Pat Murphy


Saturday, August 6, 2005

San Francisco community and elected leaders yesterday swept aside political difference to laser bulwark against Western Addition deadly violence.

Nothing less than a covenant engraving every possible resource to relieve root cause of crime is essential, Western Addition city supervisor Ross Mirkarimi prefaced.

With Friday announcement of newly tooled community policing, coupled with streamlined social service delivery, the merger "is a good start," Mirkarimi said.

He spoke before an 11:00 a.m. Mayor's Office press conference, packed so tightly with stakeholders crush of shoulders startled veterans.

And lifetime Western Addition social justice voice Mary Rogers said they were doing right.

Mirkarimi, who is called to Western Addition homicide scenes by police, leaves that desolation genuinely near tears with tragic routine, yet worked non-confrontational to redress an imbalance he saw between Bayview and Western Addition city resources.


"I am particularly pleased with the leadership of Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, and I mean this with sincerity," said Mayor Gavin Newsom.

I love the enthusiasm, I love the passion, and yes, I like the criticism because I need to be held accountable."

"And I need to be more focused. I get that, and he has done that -- in a respectful way, so he is a partner."


"When I came into office I had asked the police department to notify me whenever there was to be a homicide in our district, District 5" Mirkarimi recalled.

"I did that because I had been concerned for many years of...this simmer in the Western Addition and the Fillmore for all too long.

"I can't tell you how dispiriting it is, because mostly these homicides occur between 1:00 and 6:00 a.m., to see the crime scene, and to see how a street or a neighborhood can crumble.

"I welcome the fact, I've been asking and I believe we all see the dire need for infusing measures now such as what the mayor and the chief have talked about so that we can bring our community back to stability, so that people can feel the self-esteem returned to their neighborhood and they don't have to walk in fear.

"But I also believe as well that the short term strategy, and one that I know the city is going to put full resources behind in making sure that we stop the violence, that there is a longer term strategy as well.

"That longer term strategy is really that the poetry of any vibrant or healthy community really is predicated on the fact that we have to make sure that aspirations don't outweigh opportunities, and that when in a neighborhood that can be economically challenged or feeling any kind of oppression it can be given the opportunity to thrive and prosper the way it is when have a larger responsibility.

"That is why I welcome this opportunity of having a more refined community policing structure.

"It's important that we provide a covenant now where none has ever really existed, but has always been eloquently discussed in the past, between city government, between the community based organizations that work, between the police department, that we are then able to understand the sources that lead to criminality which consistently tends to be because of the absence of economic opportunity in those particular neighborhoods.

"I believe that it is critical that we determine, and that we also work with, the other departments whether it is on creating jobs, whether it is on providing safer housing conditions, whether it's making sure that our youth do not succumb to what the pulverizing impacts of what the streets have to offer, and that we give them something alternative to do so that it is them who do not become the next perpetrators of crime.

"What we're off to is a good start.

"It's never, never , in my opinion, too soon to do what we're talking about today, and what I want to see connected to this idea of a reformed and restructuring of our community policing is our ability to really embolden communities while we are, at the same time, we're trying to make them safe.

"So this Monday, I will be conducting a hearing at the Government Audits Committee that tries to give as much support to the vision that here Mayor Newsom with his important leadership on this issue, and of course our police chief and other electeds, try to help shape and to help make accountable the elements that can make community policing and the empowerment of the community just that what we want, 3:00 p.m., Monday, and I encourage you to come," Mirkarimi requested.


"We are coordinating everything from job training to education opportunities to street light improvements in our fight to make this one of the safest cities in America," Newsom detailed.

Joint efforts unveiled by District Attorney Kamala Harris (left),
Mayor Newsom, Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi
and Police Chief Heather Fong.

Revamped strategy is citywide, Newsom reported, tailored for neighborhood cultural needs.

"That's why we're also calling for a coordinated strategy that would provide for four individuals in each district, or each district (police) station, to coordinate community policing: two lieutenants, one member of the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services, and one member from John Osaki's shop that will focus on youth related issues, coordinated overall by Lieutenant Con Johnson who will make sure that there are community policing plans established in a collaborative way, in an organic way, that are specific to the needs of that particular district.

"One size community policing does not fit all. We've got to establish parameters and strategies that address, in a very cultural way, in a very competent way, in a very specific way, in a strategic way, where the gaps exist in every district, and make sure there is community buy-in.

"Without that, none of this is going to succeed," maintained Newsom.

Named CITYSAFE, the partnership is designed to focus on five broad areas: youth services, job creation, community development, criminal justice and safer streets.:

Safer Streets

• Community Connect: new Community Policing strategy unveiled today

• Community Safety Cameras: A new initiative announced last week, there are now 2 safety cameras installed in Western Addition on a pilot basis.

• New Police Officers: Included in this year's budget, signed into law yesterday, there is now full funding to recruit and train 150 new police officers

Youth services

• Over 350 after-school programs: 140 programs funded through the Department of Children Youth and Their Families. A list of these services will be provided to the community police officers, community organizers and city government officials.

• Mayor's Youth Education and Employment Program: Over 1000 jobs for youth have been created, in the coming weeks, these programs will be integrated into the community organizers portfolios as options for anti-violence efforts among young people.

• Wellness Centers in eight high schools: Announced in the Spring of this year, Wellness Centers will be providing early intervention and help for youth at their most vulnerable stage of development

• Safe Start: Providing intensive services for children exposed to violence

• Universal Pre-K: Announced late last month, San Francisco is leading the state in the development of a universal pre-K. Studies have shown that this is among the most effective ways of creating a healthy environment for children to develop.

Job Creation

• Citybuild: To be launched in the next month by MOEWD, Citybuild is a major new initiative aimed at hiring disadvantaged residents onto City-sponsored capital projects.

• Shipyard job training program: A new announcement, this is a partnership with the city and Lennar is providing $225,000 annually in job training and employee assistance services for Bayview-Hunters Point (BVHP) Area residents. These services will be delivered by local organizations that have a successful track record in serving the community. The funds will be directed to four areas: Construction Skilled Trades Training, Occupational Skills Training, Youth Development and Professional Services Training.

• Emporium job training: A new announcement, the new Emporium project is expected to create over 2,000 new permanent jobs, primarily in the retail sector. In addition, there will be 1,900 construction jobs created. The city is partnering with the Developer, Westfield, to invest $400,000 in job training and placement services targeted at getting disadvantaged residents into these permanent jobs.

Community Development

• Communities of Opportunity: A year long in development, this is a pilot program that utilizes community and public/private partnerships currently in Visitacion Valley and Bayview to integrate physical improvements, intensive social services and new employment opportunities. Best practices will be customized and implemented in Western Addition and Mission.

• Launch of Advancement Area: Citywide initiative to increase accountability and effectiveness among Community Based Organizations (start date: 01/06).

• Business Development: Establishment of Resident Entrepreneurial Advancement Program to increase small business and job creation in distressed neighborhoods; $1 million SFShines initiative to revitalize neighborhood commercial corridors throughout City.

Criminal justice

• Strengthening Operation Ceasefire: Fully funded with a $500,000 grant to six community-based agencies in the FY '05-'06 budget (backfilling federal cuts), Ceasefire is the City's primary suppression and intervention program dealing with violence, gangs and crime. Ceasefire deters violent behavior by targeting and reaching out to our most chronic, serious offenders, setting clear standards for their behavior.

• Gang-Free Communities Initiative: At least 30% of all crimes in the Mission are gang-related, and in Bayview Hunters Point at least 20% of all crimes are gang-related. In both communities, approximately 2% of all 11 to 24 year-olds are involved with gangs, and only a small percentage of those individuals are committing violent crimes. Gang-Free coordinates services and support to a targeted group of highly active, violent gang members, coordinating institutions and individuals to ensure effective use of resources

SAFETYConnect: A new initiative, this has been created in response to the needs of victims of violence, their families and loved ones. The goal is to protect the integrity of the location of the incident and investigation, respect the rights of family and loved ones, support the victim and provide support for the communities impacted. Safety Connect establishes a protocol to be followed when a homicide occurs, ensuring that city and community representatives will provide outreach to families and others at the scene, within 48-72 hours, as well as ongoing response like environmental assessments and mental health and victim services.


"Yeah, I think they are doing right," observed Mary Rogers.

"All of us have to be involved, especially adults. We can't just as adults see kids doing things, and not say anything to them.

"And that's what we do too often. We see kids in the streets doing things, and we don't even stop to say to them, 'Young man, or young woman, don't do that -- there's other things to do.'

"All of us have a responsibility to our young folks.

"But what about our young folks with these guns?

Civic leader Mary Rogers

"Now somebody knows how these young folks are getting these guns. I don't know who knows, but I know that they know.

"They're killing a generation of young folks.

"It don't do us no good being in this room. We need to be on the streets talking to our young people."


Western Addition ready to reclaim streets

Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

By Sharen Hewitt, Director of C.L.A.E.R. Project

Wednesday, August 3, 2005

In recognition of America's Night Out, where citizens across the country reclaim their communities, San Francisco continues to provide innovation and leadership to stem the tide of violence that continues to plague its disparate neighborhoods.

Mayor Newsom, anti-violence activists and city leaders Tuesday joined together to roll out a public media campaign to call out for an end to violence through bus shelter ads that call for peace: 'PEACE ZONE - GOTTA HAVE IT?'

The first ad was unveiled at the bus shelter on Fillmore and Golden Gate, and replaces an advertisement for liquor in an area that has been the site of many of the recent homicides in the City.

As of Tuesday, 44 murders had occurred on the streets of San Francisco.

While many of these incidents have dropped from the headlines, the ongoing effects of these tragedies remain. To address this continuing crisis, community advocates representing surviving families, San Francisco's city officials and the private sector partnered to create a public media campaign that carries a message of hope and peace.

"The public media campaign focuses on a universal message that we know San Franciscan's can relate to -- improved quality of life for the residents of San Francisco," C.L.A.E.R reported.

Sharen Hewitt

"We are marketing peace in the same way the private sector sells McDonalds to four-year olds."

Justice Goff spent his two-year birthday being hidden from bullets
by mother Dede Hewitt (right) and grandmother Sharen Hewitt.
Gunfire had erupted claiming a life
outside Justice's Western Addition home.

"This is part of a larger, ongoing peace campaign, and the public media effort is one tool that we are using to take back San Francisco's streets," stated George Jurand, one of the founding members of the Circle of Friends, a support group for surviving family members of homicide victims.

"It takes a village to create a society that is safe for all of our children," he concluded.

This campaign represents the coming together of disparate parts: the private sector, including Viacom, who is generously donating advertising space, David Quintero Design and graphic artist Enzo Lombard-Quintero; Police Commissioners Joe Veronese and Gayle Orr-Smith, who are reaching out to community partnerships that go beyond law enforcement; Community organizations like the C.L.A.E.R. Project and the Circle of Friends that have been providing leadership and advocacy on this issue long before it was headline news.

Police Commissioner Joe Veronese

Mayor prepares to unveil ad

Grim statistics bring somber reflection

Police Commissioner Gayle Orr-Smith at center

Reverend Ted Frazier

Green Party activist Susan King

Mom Elisha Rochelle reports
five-year-old Damiani Williams
is intent on Hollywood,
but has a stop at kindergarten first.

For more information, contact Sharen Hewitt, C.L.A.E.R. Project, at (415) 724-4797.


City installs closed circuit street cameras
in troubled Western Addition
Fourth London bombings suspect nabbed
in Rome today due to London cameras

Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

By Pat Murphy and Luke Thomas

Friday, July 29, 2005, 3:00 p.m.

Fourth suspect in the London bombings was arrested in Rome today thanks to street closed circuit camera images -- scant hours before San Francisco installed similar cameras in the troubled Western Addition.

In addition to London, which now has all four bombing suspects in custody, the cities of Baltimore, New Orleans, Detroit, and New York have implemented similar street camera use.

With this morning's Eddy and Buchanan Streets installation, Mayor Newsom reported it took him a year and a half of consideration to overcome Newsom's civil liberties objections, and the program is a 90-day trial period.

Western Addition longtime civic leader Mary Rogers helped overcome initial mayoral objections by imploring the cameras be installed, Newsom said.

In San Francisco, cameras cannot be manipulated to focus in on individuals or into windows, instead they constantly record 270 degree neighborhood panorama. Complete 360 degree recording is achieved with use of two cameras, which comprise the program. Imaging is looped, recording for a 72-hour period, after which previous images are erased as new images are recorded on the loop.

Cost is paid from drug arrest asset seizure. The ballistic proof cameras are 27-feet above the street, costing $13,000 plus $5,000 labor installation expense.

Advanced technology permits adequate enlargement of events as necessary at the time and location of violence, Newsom said.

Random questioning of residents living within camera view this morning brought pleased response.

"This is great, I called my mother as soon as I heard they were going up," said 43-year-old native San Franciscan Phillip Mason who lives in apartment complex directly beneath cameras.

"We should have done this a long time ago," Mason added.

Critics of street cameras come from non-violent neighborhoods, one Western Addition resident suggested.

"People who are saying that are not really affected," Otis Harris maintained.

"They aren't the ones who live in these housing projects."




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