Thursday, April 23, 2009

Police to Increase Weekend Presence Around Nightclubs

Police hope to keep peace around city’s club venues

By: Tamara Barak Aparton
Examiner Staff Writer
04/23/09 7:58 PM

Police will fan out to nightclubs this weekend after a recent spike in violence outside SoMa and Mission district hot-spots.

“In the last three weeks, we have seen a weekend increase in violence,” police Sgt. Lyn Tomioka said. “We are redirecting some of our violence-reduction teams to be in the areas where we consider a potential [for violent crime].”

The department will pay overtime to deploy additional officers, she said.

“We’re going to have high visibility in the areas to deter criminal activities,” Tomioka said.

Among the most recent incidents was the shooting death of James Jamonte Turner, a 23-year-old Richmond man who may have left a SoMa club right before the incident. On Sunday, three men were hospitalized with stab wounds after a fight involving broken bottles outside SoMa’s The Endup.

Endup owner Sydney Leung said violence like Sunday’s fight is unusual, partly because of a constant police presence.

“We are literally one block away from Southern [Police] Station, so we’re pretty lucky. Normally, I do see [officers] during the night,” he said.

Leung said he welcomes additional patrols, especially as warm weather brings more revelers out.

Entertainment Commissioner Jim Meko said a visible police presence would be more effective than current legislation supported by club owners that would make it illegal to loiter outside for more than a few minutes.

“Ultimately, the solution is a police presence. Loitering law or no loitering law, we’ve found that foot patrols tend to make these things go away in an instant,” Meko said.

Commission Executive Director Bob Davis favors the patrols, but said the uptick in violence was not limited to clubs. There were three homicides last weekend, two of which were unrelated to clubs.

Police said next week they will re-evaluate whether to continue the increased patrols.

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