sfpd_cityhall.jpgSan Francisco police Chief George Gascon said today that violent crimes and thefts in the city have continued to drop for the second year in a row.

Gascon touted a 20 percent drop in overall crime compared to the first sixth months of 2008 during a briefing to reporters with Mayor Gavin Newsom today at City Hall.

“That equates to 4,400 families in our city and county that have not been victimized,” compared with this time two years ago, Gascon said.

Gascon said San Francisco had experienced 18,096 “part one” crimes which include homicide, rape, robbery, assault and burglary–through June 30 of this year.

During the same period in 2009, there were 20,205 part one crimes, and in 2008, 22,529 crimes, he said.

The city has had 26 homicides so far this year, compared to 29 at the same time last year.

A fatal shooting in May that would have made this year’s total 27 was recently ruled justifiable homicide and was not included in police homicide statistics.

Both Newsom and Gascon credited the Police Department’s zone enforcement strategy, which was begun under previous Police Chief Heather Fong and honed under Gascon’s regime using finer statistical analysis, with largely contributing to the overall decrease.

The strategy uses crime statistics to identify specific problem neighborhoods and deploy officers appropriately.

Gascon also demands regular, public reports from district captains about crime trends in their neighborhoods.

The U.S. Department of Justice recently gave the San Francisco Police Department an “Outstanding Local Police Department Involvement” award for the zone enforcement strategy.

Gascon also attributed the decrease in part to regular meetings between police officials and community advisory boards that help shed light on problems in their neighborhoods and identify solutions.

He called a proposal to send a measure to the ballot mandating neighborhood foot patrols by officers “quite laughable.” Some members of the Board of Supervisors have expressed their support for the proposal.

Gascon said the department was already working with the community to develop solutions to neighborhood crime enforcement.

He acknowledged foot patrols are part of a community policing solution, but he asserted that mandating them under the city charter would deny him the ability to use his “professional know-how” and shift officers around as he sees fit.

“It’s a solution in search of a problem,” Newsom agreed. “This chief has delivered results, not rhetoric.”

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