Bayview residents petition Police Commission
By Brent Begin, Bay City News Service
August 24, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - Several residents of San Francisco's
Bayview District attended last night's police commission meeting
and expressed concern over what they called a recent surge in
violent crime in the area.
One resident, who broke down in tears, told the story of how
her 4-year-old son can discern the difference between the sound
of gunshots and fireworks.
Another speaker held an enlarged picture of a stop sign on Innes
Street with a bullet hole in the middle. The sign is only a few
hundred feet from where a double homicide occurred in broad daylight
less than two weeks ago.
All of the residents, men and women of differing racial and ethnic
backgrounds, called on the commission and police to put an end
to the murders and shootings, which they blamed on drugs and gang
But according to Deputy Chief Morris Tabak, this year's homicide
numbers do not reflect a trend of gang or drug violence; they
are more the result of the failure of the criminal justice system
as a whole.
Tabak cited several components beyond police work that "need
to step up" such as probation monitoring, aggressive prosecution
and the juvenile system.
"When you're not putting the heavy felons away in prison,
then they're out in the population committing more crime,"
said Tabak, who also cited a nation-wide phenomenon of rage in
contributing to the city's homicides.
Commission President Louise Renne also acknowledged the failings
of the court and probation system. She provided a rare response
to the public comment at the beginning of the meeting.
"Week after week we hear these stories," Renne said.
"It troubles us immensely."
She went on to say that the solution to the violence would come
from more than just putting more officers on the streets, and
she hinted that a major change was in the works.
"You won't see it in a week or two, but, hopefully, things
will change soon," she said.
Police Chief Heather Fong also responded to the emotional group
"The level of violence is unacceptable," Fong said.
"What the community feels is as if they are under siege.
They are not the only ones who are very frustrated, and the message
in our communities has to be that if you violate the law, there
will be a consequence and action will be taken."
Also, in closed session, commissioners discussed withdrawing
two disciplinary matters and allowing Fong to discipline the officers
on an administrative level.
The first matter, regarding Officer Huitier Choi, was continued
until next week. Choi is under investigation for allegedly letting
a hit-and-run suspect who dropped a bag of crack cocaine walk
away from a crime.
The commission voted to relegate the second matter, regarding
Inspector Kevin Whitfield, to the chief's level. Whitfield was
arrested in November 2003 for allegedly beating his nephew after
he got in trouble at school.
According to commission secretary Sgt. Joe Reilly, the commission
many times withdraws disciplinary actions because not enough evidence
has been collected to prove a case.
Commissioner Joe Veronese was absent from the meeting.
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