June 28, 2012
With ten gun-related homicides in June adding to a tally of 38 in 2012, San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr announced today the arrests of 68 wanted suspects resulting from a multi-agency sweep of the city.
“We’ve definitely had a bad month,” Suhr said during a press conference held at the Hall of Justice with several firearms seized from enforcement operations and mug shots of arrestees on display, “and we don’t want to have another one.”
Of the scores of suspects arrested during a ten-hour sting operation on June 27, 53 suspects were booked on felony charges or felony warrants, 18 of which are on active parole. Fifteen suspects were booked on misdemeanor charges or misdemeanor warrants.
“Obviously we are taking this very seriously,” Suhr said. “Any level of gun violence on the streets of San Francisco is not okay.”
Suhr was unable to provide an estimate of the number of illegal guns in circulation in San Francisco.
“A lot,” he said.
With San Fransisco’s homicide rate averaging 47 killings per year between 2009 and 2011, authorities are concerned that unless police act proactively, San Francisco’s 2012 homicide rate is set to double by year’s end. From 2004 to 2008, San Francisco’s homicide rate averaged 93 killings per year.
The drop in homicides between 2009 and 2011 has been largely credited to targeted allocations of resources utilizing crime mapping data to identify hotspot zones, and deploying foot patrols and other strategic tools of community policing to deter crime.
Asked to comment on whether a controversial “Stop and Frisk” policy being discussed and proposed by Mayor Ed Lee would be helpful in reducing gun-related violence and homicides, Suhr told Fog City Journal, “The San Francisco Police Department makes all their detentions based on reasonable suspicion. All these arrests were made based on probable cause.”
Pressed further, Suhr said, “I believe Stop and Frisk is actually the brand name of a program that the New York Police Department used. We do not use that program here. Again, all our detentions are based on reasonable suspicion.”
Asked to comment on whether such a policy would open the flood gates to racial profiling, Suhr said, “That has been raised as a concern with the program as applied in New York City. We do not racially profile here in San Francisco and never will.”
“We detain people based on reasonable suspicion – and when we pat search people, it’s for officer safety sake,” Suhr said.
The ongoing monthly preemptive operation is being led by the Violence Reduction Team and utilized officers from District stations. It is being conducted in partnership with several law enforcement agencies including the Sheriff’s Department, US Marshals Office, Central Warrants Bureau and the Department of Emergency Management, among others.
“Targeted enforcement such as fugitive apprehension is a key piece of our violence reduction strategy,” Suhr stressed.
Much of the enforcement operation is being focused in disadvantaged communities in the southeast quadrant of the city where some of the violence, including gang-related shootings, has occurred recently. While fatal shootings are up, non-fatal shootings are down 10 percent compared to last year, said Deputy Chief Kevin Cashman.
Police are asking for the public to remain vigilant and to report any suspicious activity.
“We are asking the public to help us,” Suhr said. “Do not think that anything is too outside the box. We will try anything so that not one more person is injured on the streets of San Francisco.”
Luke Thomas contributed to this report.