San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee announced Tuesday that he will not be seeking to implement a controversial “stop-and-frisk” plan as part of an attempt to quell recent gun violence in the city.
Lee had previously expressed an interest in looking into the policy, which would enable police officers to detain and pat down anyone they consider suspicious. The tactic is already being used in major cities including New York City and Philadelphia.
The topic came up in response to increased violence in San Francisco over the past two months, in which the city has had 15 gun-related homicides compared to just 14 in the first five months of the year, police Chief Greg Suhr said.
But the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and many community groups came out against the proposal, saying it would result in racial profiling and increase tension between police and residents.
Lee held a news conference at a church in the city’s Bayview District today to announce his rejection of “stop-and-frisk,” and pushed for an alternative solution that would rely on increased community involvement and focusing police attention on parole or probation violators.
“We have to do more,” he said. “There’s too many stories that we’re hearing from our clergy when it’s too late.”
He said it was fitting that today’s announcement was coming on the annual National Night Out Against Crime, a tradition that encourages neighbors to meet each other and local law enforcement in an effort to reduce crime.
“We need to work even closer together,” he said.
Lee acknowledged that the policies he is proposing “may not sound brand new, but they are a reinvigoration of where our hearts are.”
Supervisor Malia Cohen, whose district includes the Bayview and other neighborhoods that have been victimized by the recent violence, called the mayor’s decision “a wonderful epiphany” and said the city needed to do more to increase economic opportunities for youth.
Suhr outlined some of the tactics the Police Department will use to try to quell the violence, including using a new database that includes information on crimes dating back to the 1980s to help predict where problems might pop up in the city.
“We want to get out in front of the violence,” he said.
The targeting of people on parole or probation is modeled after a similar program in Boston that Suhr said helped to reduce crime.
Community leaders, including the Rev. Joseph Bryant, pastor of Calvary Hill Community Church where today’s news conference was held, also pledged to increase their support for disadvantaged youth.
Bryant lauded Lee’s announcement today that he would not pursue a “stop-and-frisk” policy.
“The mayor has heard the voices of the community, and today we stand in junction with him,” Bryant said. “We will stand together to ensure the future of our youth.”
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News