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San Francisco police address violence
in Western Addition

Increased presence is working to deter turf wars

By Brent Begin, Bay City News Service

March 2, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - An increased police presence in San Francisco's Western Addition has cooled down a heated turf war that has left many residents afraid, San Francisco Police Captain John Ehrlich told a handful of community members last night.

At the meeting -- called following a spike in violence that claimed two lives and injured several more, including a 13-year-old girl -- tempers sometimes flared.

Some felt police would only leave once the violence subsided, only to have criminals return to their previous activities. Others felt that police weren't doing enough to arrest drug dealers and other criminals.

Ehrlich, appearing along with Assistant District Attorney Pamela Hansen, police Capt. Kevin Cashman and police homicide investigator Lt. John Murphy, said he understood the concerns of the community but that crime is actually down statistically from last year.

He also pointed to three arrests in the Feb. 11 shooting of the 13-year-old girl as proof that some progress was being made. The shooting was one of at least five in a 24-hour time span that left two dead. According to Ehrlich, who was representing Park Station, those shootings were most likely gang-related. Lately, he said, a loose confederacy of smaller gangs calling themselves Uptown have been "at war" with Eddy Rock, an alleged street gang based in the Plaza East housing units.

But Ehrlich said keeping these groups at bay isn't always easy because boundaries and alliances are never set in stone.

"The boundary is not a wall, not for gangs and not for police," he told concerned residents.

"We've concentrated a lot of units here just to stop the violence, cool people down a little bit."

Once violence flares up in another part of the city, however, those resources will have to move on.

Community members suggested a gang injunction like the one implemented in the Bayview district in October. Mary McGarvey, a San Francisco resident who works in the Western Addition, said she is sick of being afraid to walk in the neighborhood. She called for a "nice clear strategy" to crime near federal housing projects.

"They're federally subsidized to loiter, shoot and do drugs," she told the crowd.

Cashman responded by saying the department was relying on a host of different strategies involving federal authorities. Through the U.S. Attorney's office, for example, dangerous criminals have been prosecuted through federal racketeering statutes, he said.

As to what the department will do once U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan leaves the Northern California office, Cashman said he is guardedly optimistic that the new U.S. attorney will continue assisting the department.

"It's a win, win situation," he added.

Copyright © 2007 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




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