Public safety a hot issue for some San Francisco
By Brent Begin, Bay City News Service
November 6, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - With at least four competitive races
for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Election Day, many
voters are looking to candidates with an eye on combating the
city's surge in violent crime.
The city's homicide rate, a total of 75 in 2006, is on pace to
match the ten-year-high of 2005, city agencies are scrambling
to quell a surge in gang violence and supervisors are passing
legislation that would mandate policing strategies.
No event seemed to embody the political implications of public
safety more than last week's near tragic shooting
at the annual Halloween party in the city's Castro neighborhood.
While the 10 people injured in the attack are expected to live,
the shooting still highlighted a District 8 controversy.
Alix Rosenthal, a challenger to incumbent Supervisor Bevan Dufty,
immediately criticized the handling of the event, which had been
scaled back this year.
"Policing is reactionary, that was one of the problems I
saw with Halloween in the Castro," Rosenthal said. "Police
were standing around waiting for something to happen and then
Dufty, who was shocked and disappointed following the shootings,
responded that violence prevention is a vital duty of public office
that he takes very seriously.
"As a supervisor, I think my work in the arena of the public
proves my record," Dufty said of public safety. "It's
not really a campaign issue for me. You can ask my constituents
about my record."
Supervisor Bevan Dufty
Mayor Gavin Newsom called criticism over the Halloween event
"shameful" and then put together a task force to decide
what would happen in the Castro next Halloween.
Newsom has played a major role in the supervisor races, endorsing
Dufty, District 4 candidate Doug Chan and District 6 candidate
Rob Black. He also entered the political ring with a last-minute
veto of popular legislation that would have made police foot
patrols mandatory throughout the city.
Chan, a former police commissioner vying for the empty Sunset
district seat, immediately supported Newsom's move.
"The job of keeping our neighborhoods safe is better left
in the hands of police professionals, not politicians," Chan
said in a statement.
"As supervisor I will make public safety my number one priority
and start with recruiting, hiring and training ... so that we
will have more patrols in the neighborhoods."
But some supervisors are campaigning on the opposite side of
the mayor's policies. Chris Daly, incumbent supervisor for District
6, is a staunch supporter of the foot patrol legislation. He has
also been critical of the mayor's funding requests for the criminal
Supervisor Chris Daly and family.
Daly's main challenger Rob Black, who is endorsed by Newsom and
the Police Officers Association, says he supports more foot patrols
and community policing initiatives, which is one common thread
for challengers and incumbents alike.
Rosenthal also hopes to improve relations between police and
civilians. She said that during the Halloween event she was surprised
by the friendliness of the San Francisco Patrol Special Police,
a group of officers appointed by the police commission. They were
proactive and spoke with revelers before anything went wrong,
"That's community policing, getting cops out of their cars,"
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