crime

SF’s 2019 Homicide Rate Was Lowest in Nearly 60 Years: Report

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Newly released crime data show that violent crime in San Francisco dropped by 6 percent last year compared to the previous year, police said Tuesday.

According to the data, homicides in San Francisco dropped by 11 percent in 2019 from 2018. Forty-one people died last year in homicides-the lowest rate in nearly 60 years.

In addition, the data show rapes were down by 15 percent while sex trafficking fell by 57 percent. Both robberies and aggravated assaults were down by 4 percent last year.

Police Chief William Scott shared the results during a news conference Tuesday at police headquarters alongside Mayor London Breed.

"The fact that we are at an all-time low in homicides in our city is absolutely incredible," Breed said. "Forty-one homicides of course are 41 too many, but the fact is that this is the lowest number of homicides that we've seen since 1961. It is unbelievable. But we didn't get there by accident."

Breed said increased efforts by police to connect with residents and the community as a whole has led to reduced crime numbers.

"I am proud of the work they (police) have done and will continue to do for the residents of the city. It is getting us to a better place as we can see with the statistics," she said.

"Violent crime is always going to be our top priority," Scott said.

"We've had a number of high profile cases during this last year in 2019 and we solved a number of them," he said. "With that, our homicide clearance rate this past year was 71 percent."

When it came to property crimes, Scott said the department saw a 4 percent overall drop. Burglaries decreased by 14 percent, vehicle burglaries by 2 percent and larceny by 3 percent.

According to Scott, a 2018 study by researchers at the California Policy Lab at the University of California at Berkeley found that officers conducting regular foot patrols in downtown San Francisco led to significant drops in assaults and thefts.

But both Scott and Breed acknowledged that the Police Department is short by about 100 officers and an increase in staffing would likely lead to an even sharper drop in crime.

"We're doing everything we can to recruit and get the people in the academy and put them on the streets," Scott said. "We try to run as efficiently as possible. We're looking at resources and the bodies needed, and the officers are needed in the streets, so that's what we're planning to do."

In addition to the data, police said officers seized a total of 933 guns in 2019.

The department last year also held its first annual Gun Violence Summit, in order to identify new strategies to reduce gun violence, particularly in the city's Bayview neighborhood.

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