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SAN FRANCISCO
Newsom wants to use fire trucks to help battle crime
He would plant firefighters in their rigs on street corners
Rachel Gordon, Jaxon Van Derbeken, Chronicle Staff Writers

Tuesday, March 8, 2005

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom suggested Monday that the city park fire trucks and their crews on streets in violence-prone neighborhoods to deter crime.

A thug, he suggested, would be less likely to shoot someone in front of a firefighter.

"I'm throwing this out there,'' Newsom said at a City Hall meeting attended by the police and fire chiefs and top aides in his administration. "I just think it may be a good thing.''

His idea is to pull the firefighters out of their firehouses, where they're stationed when not responding to fires and medical emergencies, and plant them in their rigs nearby -- visible to the public. There are 43 fire stations in San Francisco.

Newsom floated the idea in response to a recent surge in homicides in the city. There have been 19 so far this year, compared with 13 by this time in 2004.

But unlike last year, when the killings were concentrated in and around the public housing projects in the southeast part of the city, this year's have been spread out in different neighborhoods.

Deputy Chief Morris Tabak, who is in charge of investigations for the Police Department, described the recent increase as "a blip.''

He said the killings stemmed mainly from personal spats rather than gang disputes, which accounted for many of the homicides in early 2004. Last year's homicide rate eased in the second half of the year as police focused on hot- spot areas and chronic criminals.

Police Department statistics show that reported crime is down slightly in the public housing developments in Potrero Hill, Hunters Point and Sunnydale. In January 2004, there were 131 reported offenses. In January 2005, there were 113.

For the most part, Tabak said, the slayings this year have been incidents "that no amount of proactive police work can prevent, unless you have a police officer on every corner.''

And with resources limited, that's not going to happen. "We can't be everywhere at once,'' said Newsom, who added he is not satisfied that enough is being done to quell the violence. "I think the homicide rate is outrageous. This is my biggest burden.''

He said the city needs to look beyond traditional policing and consider creative tactics, such as putting fire trucks on the streets. There already are plans in the works to park city ambulances in outlying neighborhoods later this year so they can respond to calls faster.

Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White said the mayor's idea for the firefighters might have merit, but she stopped short of endorsing it.

"I agree there may be some deterrent to having apparatus deployed out there,'' Hayes-White said.

Firefighters union chief John Hanley agreed but raised a number of concerns, with the safety of his members topping the list.

"We're firefighters. We're not armed. My guys don't have bulletproof vests,'' Hanley said.

And the one weapon firefighters do have readily available isn't an option, Hanley said. "We don't train fire hoses on people in San Francisco,'' he said.

Police Capt. Rick Bruce of the Bayview Station said that while the district does have high-crime spots such as Third and Newcomb streets, he wasn't sure the plan was workable.

"Unless we are going to place people there for 24 hours, you have no guarantee they are going to be present when the crime occurs,'' Bruce said.

Deputy Police Chief Greg Suhr said putting a city vehicle on the streets, even a non-police car such as an ambulance, has a deterrent effect.

"It does give people pause -- maybe somebody who is wondering about a particular area might think, 'This area gets a little crazy, so we'll go someplace a little quieter,' '' Suhr said.

But Police Chief Heather Fong is concerned that stationing fire trucks at potential crime scenes could mean crews would be tied up as crime witnesses rather than being available to respond to an emergency, Suhr said.

"She intends to have further dialogue with Hayes-White about the feasibility of the proposal,'' Suhr said.

Firefighters at Station 17 at Shafter Avenue and Ingalls Street, a few blocks from several southeastern housing projects, were cool to the idea.

One firefighter, who didn't want his name used for fear of retribution, said his job is to put out fires, not fight crime. Fire engine companies won't respond to shootings or stabbings until police tell them the scene is secure, the firefighter said.

"Nobody signed up for this job to sit on the corner and play security guard," he said.

Police said Monday there was little chance that stepped-up official presence on the streets would have headed off the city's latest killing.

Eric Broussard, 28, was shot to death at Palou Avenue and Rankin Street in the Bayview around 4 a.m., authorities said.

He and friends had been drinking and heckled two men as they walked by, apparently mistaking them for women, authorities said. One of the men opened fire, killing Broussard and wounding a 25-year-old man.

Chronicle staff writer Wyatt Buchanan contributed to this report.E-mail the writers at [email protected] and [email protected]
e.com.

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Its San Fransisco... you actually expected a politician in SF to make sense?

This is a really retarded proposal.
 

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The mayor should go down to LA and talk to the firefighters who were shot at during the Riots to get their opinions.

This explains why the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is all messed up!!
 

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Deputy Police Chief Greg Suhr said putting a city vehicle on the streets, even a non-police car such as an ambulance, has a deterrent effect.
Yeah, a city vehicle has a deterrent effect, but its much more of a deterrent if the city vehicle is a police car. Also, have they considered the problems of putting an ambulance on a street corner like that? Nightmare senario: Ambulance parked on a street corner, paramedics inside. Someone runs up to the ambulance saying they need help, maybe clutching what appears to be a wound. Unless the crew is going to radio for a police cruiser before treating the injured party, they will get out and treat the individual, where they can be attacked and then--- looky looky ---they have an ambulance full of drugs too.

For the most part, Tabak said, the slayings this year have been incidents "that no amount of proactive police work can prevent, unless you have a police officer on every corner.''
But they could be prevented by putting a fire truck on every street corner? Come on now... thats retarded even for a left-coast politician.

Maybe civil service does have a place.... check this out:

MAYORAL ELIGIBILITY EXAM​

1. Who puts out the fires?
A. The firefighters
B. My personal assistant
C. The police
D. Constables

2. Who prevents crime, provides for public safety and arrests criminals?
A. The firefighters
B. Michael Jackson
C. The police
D. Crack addicts
 

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JoninNH said:
Deputy Police Chief Greg Suhr said putting a city vehicle on the streets, even a non-police car such as an ambulance, has a deterrent effect.
Yeah, a city vehicle has a deterrent effect, but its much more of a deterrent if the city vehicle is a police car. Also, have they considered the problems of putting an ambulance on a street corner like that? Nightmare senario: Ambulance parked on a street corner, paramedics inside. Someone runs up to the ambulance saying they need help, maybe clutching what appears to be a wound. Unless the crew is going to radio for a police cruiser before treating the injured party, they will get out and treat the individual, where they can be attacked and then--- looky looky ---they have an ambulance full of drugs too.

For the most part, Tabak said, the slayings this year have been incidents "that no amount of proactive police work can prevent, unless you have a police officer on every corner.''
But they could be prevented by putting a fire truck on every street corner? Come on now... thats retarded even for a left-coast politician.

Maybe civil service does have a place.... check this out:

MAYORAL ELIGIBILITY EXAM​

1. Who puts out the fires?
A. The firefighters
B. My personal assistant
C. The police
D. Constables

2. Who prevents crime, provides for public safety and arrests criminals?
A. The firefighters
B. Michael Jackson
C. The police
D. Crack addicts
yeah thats just dumb! i am gonna answer "C" for #1, & "B" for#@2
 

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stm4710";p="58800 said:
He said the city needs to look beyond traditional policing and consider creative tactics, such as putting fire trucks on the streets.
DUMB DUMB DUMB!!! The terms "Traditional Policing Methods" and "Fire Trucks" do not belong in the same sentence. Here is an idea, hire more POLICE and assign them to patrol the neighborhoods where there is increased crime.
 

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there may be some merit here.

1. hire more firefighters
2. torch the neighborhoods
3. make it one great big training exercise.

everyone benefits.
 
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