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Latest killings frustrate officials who know killer identities

By Pat Murphy

August 19, 2006

Everyone knows who they are, the young and living who kill their peers.

Living only blocks from where they kill. Alienated. Belly full of rage.

After they kill, they show up on time the next morning to take care of more business.

Five more caskets were needed this week when day-before-yesterday a passerby became San Francisco's 57th homicide. He was shot dead for trying to stop a beating.

Homicides continue one year after the City declared its August 5, 2005, covenant to retool every resource to curtail the slaughter.

In retrospect, officials acknowledge covenant shortfall.

"It continues going on and on," Supervisor Sophie Maxwell told the Sentinel. Maxwell represents the violence scarred Bayview neighborhood.

"The first thing it makes you think is what are we doing and the first thing you want to think is that we're not doing enough.

"We're not. If they can continue we're not doing enough."

The City knows who the murderers are, Maxwell continued in frustration.

"We know who these young men are. We know... there's not a lot of them.

"They tend to... have past association with our criminal justice system. They tend to be on probation."

An understaffed Probation Department cannot not intervene preemptively, the District 10 supervisor reported.

"We have one probation officer for 285 parolees... so these people are not being looked at, they are not being contacted.

"How do we expect our Probation Department to do a good job under these circumstances?"

Effective Probation Department oversight could control the violence, she stated.

"In one way I feel this exasperation but then in another way I know we could control this.

"We can end this. We know who they are. We know where they are and the thing is they don't go far from home where they perpetrate the crimes.

"We know the blocks, we know (they are) around housing developments, we know the ages."

Maxwell maintained that Police need suspect information which a beefed-up Probation could provide.

"The police are not getting the evidence," noted Maxwell.

"If you have more parole officers out... with satellite offices in neighborhoods where crooks live they could get them before (violence occurs).

"They would know what is going on. There would be a buzz out there but if you don't see a parole officer you don't have to worry about that.

"We haven't had a director of probation for over a year."

She called for cooperation between the police and San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris.

"I think Kamala is committed to picking up these people and putting them in jail.. she wouldn't have this job if she wasn't committed to making sure that people could live in a lawful manner, in a lawful world... that's what she's dedicated her life to."

Harris yesterday foreswore City boosterism of last year's covenant announcement.

Instead, she indicated straightforward sadness for continued deaths.

She made the comment during a Hall of Justice press conference announcing conviction in a home invasion, rape, and first-degree murder case.

Ivory Morton, 36, was arrested in March 2003, almost four years after he and an accomplice broke into the Potrero Avenue home of 26-year-old Mark Barton around 6 a.m. on Jul 9, 1999, tied him up, and forced him to watch his 21-year-old girlfriend being raped.

Morton and the accomplice then killed Barton by shooting him in the head.

The girlfriend was shot in the stomach and left for dead, according to authorities.

Although her intestines were hanging out she managed to dress herself and go outside for help. San Francisco General Hospital reported the protective clothing saved her life.

Morton faces the possibility of life in prison without parole. His sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 14.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Eric Fleming, Harris noted.

Despite horrific nature of continuing murders, Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi yesterday pointed to hope found in City budget for additional funding for the coming year.

"I'm actually very proud of the violence protection program that we are supporting in many of the hotpockets crime impacted areas throughout San Francisco particularly in my District," Mirkarimi told the Sentinel.

Mirkarimi represents the Western Addition.

"And added money that we were able to unearth through this most recent budget deliberations. I sit on the Budget Committee so while we wait and see the progress of this violence prevention measure they are all going to seem insignificant every time there is a new shooting.

"The more immediate need is just to get safe cover from the bullets that are flying and so I expect the Police Department, the District Attorney, and the mayor to amp up their resolve in concentrating on how to make our streets safe and how to break the cycle - which typically is a retaliatory cycle, this tit-for-tat cycle that happens every time happens another one follows suit.

"I'm a big believer in sustained saturation of police officers.

"I've already spoken to the Police Department, the Mayor's Office, and others to do what you can in order get us more staffing so that we at least return some of the confidence back to the streets that people are not going to be gunned down accidentally or intentionally.

"I think people won't see any difference as long as we're held hostage to the inside of our houses or to apartments.

"If we're not allowed to breathe the air of freedom through public safety then any of these programs even the best of them are not going to be able to avail themselves to the best of our abilities.

"We need to have a two-pronged approach.

"One prong is that we need to feel safe. The other prong is to deal with the core factors that... nourish those who are prone to commit crimes."

Maxwell said the Mayor's Office is moving forward on additional funding for the Probation Department.

The Newsom administration yesterday sent an update to stakeholders.

"Public Safety has and will always be the top priority of this administration. Mayor Gavin Newsom has taken significant action in recent months to marshal government resources to make your community safer. Outlined below are the specific steps we are taking to achieve our mission," the update reported.

"The San Francisco Police Department is utilizing all of its available resources internally to respond to the recent violence. Officers are being deployed from relatively low-crime districts to high-crime districts as needed on a nightly basis as well as deployment of tactical and specialist units to hot spots based on the latest intelligence received.

"Furthermore, we are working with the board of Supervisors to provide overtime funding to saturate high-crime spots with specialist units to help stop the violence and increase our visibility on the streets.

"The Community Response Network (CRN), a community based network that provides crisis intervention, case management, and street level outreach, is currently expanding to the Bayview and Western Addition. This network has been effective in the Mission and we are confident this will have a positive impact on your community.

"Security cameras have played an integral role in helping us deter violence and prosecute perpetrators. We are currently working with the San Francisco Housing Authority to install additional community safety cameras at the Plaza East Hope VI Development at Eddy and Laguna and we will continue with more in that area.

"A number of the perpetrators and victims of recent homicides have been
graduates of the Juvenile Probation Department's Log Cabin Ranch. Beginning immediately, the Probation Department is substantially increasing the supervision requirements for all youth returning from Log Cabin Ranch.

"Vehicles have been used in the commission of numerous recent violent
crimes. SFPD has requested the assistance of the California Highway Patrol (CHP) for Operation Impact, which reduces violent crime through increased law enforcement presence and strict traffic enforcement.

"The San Francisco Sheriff's Department has been asked to provide short-term assistance to SFPD by transporting arrestees from police stations to jail 24 hours per day and by receiving custody of prisoners with medical issues at San Francisco General Hospital. This assistance will allow more SFPD officers to remain on the streets rather than attending to custody-related duties.

"The Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice will coordinate with the DA, Police Chief, Presiding Judge, Sheriff, Chief Adult Probation Officer, Chief Juvenile Probation Officer and Director of the Department of Human Resources to address criminal case processing and staffing issues

"Additionally we are asking all San Franciscans to contact our confidential tip line if you have any information that could lead us to the apprehension of a criminal. The number is (415) 575-4444.

"This outline is only the beginning to a more comprehensive response to
recent community violence and we will continue to be vigilant in our
efforts to provide a more safe San Francisco," concluded the update.

Bay City News contributed to this report.




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