A day after San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom threatened last week to demote police commanders unless they did more to fight homicides, Police Chief Heather Fong ordered investigators in the department’s drug and gang units to put on uniforms and patrol city streets at night, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Last year’s homicide total, 98, was the most in San Francisco in a dozen years. The mayor told commanders their current strategy of combatting violent crime wasn’t working and that he would replace them if they couldn’t get the job done.
Newsom was particularly concerned about a recent shooting outside a girls basketball game that killed a community activist gunned down when he walked out of the gym at halftime. All 70 officers in the narcotics and gang task force units were reassigned to the evening shift in uniform. Some said they had been told to abandon current investigations; department officials insisted they would continue existing duties even as they pound a beat. Some reassigned investigators were skeptical, saying potential informants were unlikely to risk being seen talking to a uniformed officer and that those who might be asked to work undercover could be jeopardized if they are seen now on patrol.