Battling West Fresno Gangs

April 2, 2008 10:11:24 PM PDT
Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer gave a progress report in the seven month gang crackdown in southwest Fresno. Residents say they've seen a big difference since police stepped up their west Fresno gang operation last August. Many people we spoke with say the streets are safer for their kids.

"I want him to be able to go to school safely."

Jimmy Hayine says he's only recently been able to take his two year old son Jaden for walks in his southwest Fresno neighborhood and feel safe.

Jimmy Haynie, Resident: "Normally right about this time there would be a shooting or something. Police have been doing a pretty good job of patrolling the area."

Haynie and other residents claim the reduction in crime is due to the west Fresno tactical team-a group of police officers whose sole mission is to target known gang members and end the violence in southwest Fresno.

Chief Jerry Dyer: "We are going after those individuals that we know have historically been praying on innocent victims in our community."

Police Chief Jerry Dyer said the tactical team was responsible for reducing shootings in the area by 28% since the operation began last August. Also, injuries from shootings are down 22%. And murders in southwest Fresno are down 50%.

During this seven-month anti-gang operation police found 69 weapons. They were recovered during parole and probation searches. So far the tactical team has made nearly 800-felony arrests. Dyer credits much of this to residents willing to come forward with information. Historically residents have been afraid to talk with police but David Constante says that's changing.

David Constante, Resident: "More involved than usual. In the past most people were afraid to call the police because people would come and find them or whatever, but now it's getting better."

The gang suppression operation will continue in this part of town. The tactical team believes two new gangs have entered this area from southern and northern California. The team is closely watching to see if these new groups become legitimate threats.


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