San Francisco homicides are on pace to drop to their lowest annual level in 17 years, according to new numbers released by the Police Department.
According to the numbers, as of Nov. 4, 33 homicides have occurred in the city, down from 46 in all of 2018. In 2017, 56 homicides were reported.
The numbers are a stark contrast to 2007, when the city saw 99 killings.
“If we continue this trend for the next month and a half, it will be the lowest we’ve seen in decades,” said Deputy Chief Greg McEachern.
McEachern said he believes the drop is connected to several changes the Police Department has made over the years, stemming from the 2016 U.S. Department of Justice report that made 272 recommendations in key areas.
Those areas included use of force, bias, community policing practices, accountability and recruitment and personnel practices.
“Over the past couple of years, we believe some of the programs we’ve implemented and some of the engagements we’ve had with individuals have helped us decrease crimes and solve some of the crimes,” he said.
Since focusing on engaging with communities and community groups, McEachern said officers have been able to get more tips and information on certain crimes. Prior to that, he said, officers had a hard time getting witnesses and victims to come forward.
In addition, the Police Department works with the city’s Street Violence Intervention Program, which gets the help of former gang members and community leaders to engage residents in dialogue with police officers and increases transparency.
Police have also stepped up training for homicide investigators, helping the department earn a 100 percent homicide clearance rate in 2018.
That means officers solved the same number of homicides that occurred that year.
Officers have also been able to take more guns off city streets through the department’s Crime Gun Investigations Center, which works on identifying the city’s most prolific gun offenders.
Another important tool, McEachern said, is having officers patrolling neighborhoods on foot. “They tend to engage the community and it builds trust,” he said.
Through the reforms and improvements, McEachern said the department is already seeing the benefit, with no officer-involved shootings occurring in the city in nearly 17 months.
“We’re very proud,” he said. “We’re better trained, we’re responsive and we’re engaged with the community.”