While it's too soon to say for sure, at the mid-year mark, San Francisco is poised to see an even lower homicide count this year than it did last year — with a murder rate lower than it's been in the city since the early 1960s.
In this era of constant negative coverage about San Francisco, some of it connected to property crime, it is worth celebrating that violent crime has sunk to historic levels in the last couple of years. There were a total of 46 homicides in the city last year, the lowest level in a decade, and just two killings more than there were here in 1963. Gun violence in general is waning, at least for now — shooting deaths were down 41 percent last year, and non-fatal shootings were down 28 percent.
The trend extended to the rest of the Bay Area in 2018 as well — Oakland had 68 homicides last year, the lowest count in 20 years; and San Jose's count fell from 47 in 2016, to 34 in 2017, to 27 in 2018, as the Chronicle reported in January.
As of June 30, 2019, there were 20 homicides in San Francisco, just over three per month on average.* (See them all mapped here.) If the pattern holds, the city's murder rate for this year could come in well below the 44 killings that happened here in 1963, and would mark a serious downward trend. As recently as 2007 there were 100 homicides in the city, and back in the 1970s the count was in the triple digits just about every year.
The trend is a national one, with violent crime going down in many cities over the last decade — with seemingly anomalous spikes in 2015 and 2016 — but locally Mayor London Breed told the Chronicle the trend has "a lot to do with us having more beat officers and that we are working hard to develop better relationships with the community to prevent things from happening in the first place."
"We are extremely pleased with where we are with violent crime... but there is still a lot of work to be done,” said SFPD Chief Bill Scott last December. “There’s no magic formula, but what we try to do is implement strategies."
Fingers crossed the trend holds. We could use some good news.
*This article has been corrected to show that there had been 20 homicides as of June 30, not 17.