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SF police campaign aimed at making Castro District Halloween celebration safe for all

New chief vows to make city's only public Halloween festivity crime-free

San Francisco police Chief George Gascon and Supervisor Bevan Dufty said yesterday that the city plans to keep the public safe and having a good time during Halloween celebrations tomorrow night in the Castro District.

The announcement was part of the third year of the Home for Halloween campaign, which started in 2007 to curb increased violence and vandalism during the holiday.

"We want to make sure that people are able to come to our city and enjoy the things that we have to offer, and we definitely want to make sure that our residents get to enjoy the festivities, but we want them to do so in a safe manner," Gascon said.

There will not be any city-sponsored events in San Francisco, and no street closures are planned in the city because of Halloween celebrations.

There have been problems historically on Halloween in San Francisco, particularly in the Castro District where five people were stabbed in 2004 and 2005, and in 2006 when nine people were shot.

However, since the campaign was instituted, there have been no major acts of violence reported in the area the past two years, and Dufty said "we really feel like we're building on top of that success."

The main event during last year's holiday, the San Francisco Halloween Festival, a free event in the Lot A parking area near AT&T Park, will not be returning this year because it was poorly attended and distracted from other law enforcement efforts in the city, Dufty said.

However, he said curbing rowdy celebrations in the Castro District has been beneficial to other businesses throughout the city.

"One of the things that happened two years ago when we didn't have any celebration in the Castro was that parts of San Francisco and the Bay Area where clubs and venues that had never done business on Halloween, and weren't in the game so to speak, knew that was their year," Dufty said.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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