http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/metro/20060420-9999-7m20quarter.html Police chief: Stats 'most disturbing' By Joe Hughes UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER April 20, 2006 Homicides in San Diego are up 75 percent, with 14 in the first three months of 2006, compared with eight during the same period last year. Police Chief William Lansdowne told the City Council Committee on Public Safety and Neighborhood Services yesterday that he thought the numbers were “most disturbing.” Advertisement Adblock He said it was unclear what the increase means for the long term. “It's just too early to tell if this is an anomaly, a spike or something more,” Lansdowne said. He suggested that the coming summer months, when crime tends to increase, could give a good indication whether the early returns indicate a troubling trend for the year. The homicides this quarter didn't fit a particular pattern or geographic location. The deaths came from a wide spectrum such as child abuse, murder-suicide, domestic violence and bar brawls. All of the homicides involved drug or alcohol use, Lansdowne said. He said there was an increase in knife assaults, which carried over from last year. Stabbings were on the rise because “we are very effective in stopping gun violence,” he said. “We are seizing more guns, and there are strict penalties for carrying guns,” the chief said. The overall quarterly crime statistics Lansdowne presented showed a less-than-1 percent increase in crime for the first three months, compared with the same period in 2005. They were regarded as a positive report card for a police force that's understaffed and underfunded. “The Police Department is doing a remarkable job under the current circumstances,” said Councilman Brian Maienschein, committee chairman. The force is operating with a shortage of 135 officers. The city's quarterly report comes a week after the San Diego Association of Governments released a study that said crime in the region is dropping as the region is growing. The City Council committee also heard a report from the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department yesterday. The department made a pitch for a second fire-rescue helicopter and proposed using state-financed Miramar College courses to help pay for increased firefighter training. Brian Fennessy, chief of air operations, said that from July 1, 2005, through April 1, the department's helicopter responded to 307 emergency incidents. They included 119 vegetation fires, 86 air rescues and 53 patient transports to local trauma centers. Fennessy said the time spent on scheduled and unscheduled maintenance, along with emergency responses to incidents outside the city, left the public vulnerable. He said having two helicopters would ensure full-time coverage. That opinion was echoed by Bob Cavage, president of Wildfire Research Network, a nonprofit public safety and research organization in Los Angeles. Cavage told the committee that San Diego needs another helicopter to deal with wild-land fires, homeland security and medical emergencies. “The lesson all wildfire-fighting organizations are relearning with each new experience is, what really counts is getting to the fire much quicker with more suppressant,” Cavage said.