San Francisco supervisors are examining the city’s surging homicide rate through a new committee on gun and gang violence. The San Francisco Chronicle says they received a grim briefing on the scale of the mayhem and failure to hold perpetrators accountable. In 74 of the 94 homicides recorded through Monday afternoon in 2005, no arrest has been made and the cases remain under investigation. Police have made arrests in eight cases that resulted in prosecutions; in four other cases, the district attorney’s office decided not to prosecute due to evidentiary shortcomings. The eight remaining cases are closed due to deaths of suspects, among other reasons.
Police attributed the problems partly to the reluctance of witnesses to provide testimony given their exposure to retribution. Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier suggested that a reward tip line, which has helped cut crime in New York and other cities, might be worth trying again in San Francisco. Police said that 64 percent of homicide victims during the past two years were African American. Fewer than 10 percent of San Francisco residents are black. About 20 percent this year’s homicides occurred on public housing properties.