No one can quite account for it, but San Francisco is poised in 2009 to have the biggest one-year drop in homicides on record, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Police have logged 45 homicides, a decline of more than 50 percent from both 2007 and 2008, when the city recorded 98 and 97 homicides. If it holds through the year, it will mark the lowest number of homicides since 1961, when there were 39.
As homicides plummeted, an expanded homicide unit caught up on its work, solving 70 percent of killings in 2009, about twice the rates of both 2007 and 2008 and the best figure in memory. Oakland has the most homicides of Bay Area cities with 109, compared with 123 in 2008. San Francisco police cited a decline in cases that are especially stubborn to unravel, such as gang- or drug-related killings with few or no witnesses.