SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said he is considering implementing the controversial stop-and-frisk policy used in other major cities including New York and Philadelphia to reduce violent crime.
Lee told the San Francisco Chronicle's editorial board Wednesday that police officers need stop-and-frisk to get guns off the streets.
"This is under consideration as a way to make sure that we keep homicides and some of these other violent crime(s) down," Lee said. "I think we have to get to the guns. I know we have to find a different way to get to these weapons, and I'm very willing to consider what other cities are doing."
A former civil rights lawyer, Lee concedes that the policy is controversial and said he will likely be tagged for racial profiling. Lee said he wants to explore the idea after discussing the policy with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Civil rights groups have criticized stop-and-frisk as racial profiling, saying the policy disproportionately affects Hispanics and blacks. Thousands of demonstrators marched through New York's streets this month to protest stop-and-frisk.
Lee's revelation also comes as a surprise as San Francisco's violent crime rate in 2011 dropped for a third straight year, hovering at historic lows not seen since the 1960s and mirroring a current national trend.
San Francisco had 50 homicides last year, the same number as 2010 and slightly higher than 46 in 2009, but far fewer than the 98 murders in 2008. Meanwhile, neighboring Oakland had 110 homicides in 2011.
Alan Schlosser, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, said he's shocked that Lee is considering bringing stop-and-frisk to San Francisco.
"San Francisco for years has tried to develop ... policies that reduce racial profiling," Schlosser said. "This just seems like a total reverse of that."
There have been 38 homicides in San Francisco this year, including an alarming 10 so far in June - one of the deadliest months in recent memory.
Police Chief Greg Suhr said Wednesday that shootings overall are down 10 percent year to date.
"We know we're doing it right," said Suhr, whom Lee selected as chief last year. "We have no interest in racially profiling here. ... I think we're more of the model in the country on how to do it right."
Suhr said Lee takes hearing the news of shootings in the city very personally.
"He's more upset than I can tell you," Suhr said.
However, the chief is confident that once the mayor "hears the downside of this and how it was not well received in New York or Philadelphia or by law enforcement in general, he'll see that's not the best way to do business here."
On Thursday, Suhr reiterated his stance, adding that suspects are detained solely on reasonable suspicion.
"We do not racially profile in San Francisco," Suhr said. "And we never will."