Drastic Drop in Fresno's Murder Rate

August 7, 2008 7:54:42 PM PDT
The city of Fresno has had 25 homicides so far this year. That's ten fewer than investigators were dealing with at this same time last year. Everyday in some part of Fresno officers are knocking on doors, taking down names and hauling off gang members. They say it's working to drive the homicide rate down by close to 30 percent.

Police say Fresno gang members who once had neighbors living in fear, nowadays instead worry about officers breathing down their backs.

Jerry Dyer, Fresno Police Department: "The fact is everyday they feel the pressure everyday we hear it everytime we make an arrest or make a probation search warrant, a parole search warrant, whatever it is."

To say the department is not gang friendly is an understatement. During a recent prison tour Chief Jerry Dyer says even inmates acknowledged his gang efforts.

"The talk inside the prisons is very similar. Fresno is not the place you want to be involved in criminal activity or gang activity or you're gonna end up in jail."

Intense gang enforcement is proving to pay off. Fewer people are dying in Fresno as the result of gang activity.

Murders involving gangs are down 54 percent from the same time last year and homicides in general are way down too.

Our exclusive action news Crimetracker shows last year from January to August Fresno PD investigated 35 homicides but this year they have only had 25 to date.

Police say when they get a homicide case, they work it nonstop to solve it before it ends up in another death.

"The faster we can clear a homicide and make an arrest, the less likely we're going to have retaliation because the gang members feel justice has been served so they don't take the law into their own hands."

The success is a good sign the constant operations are working. But it doesn't mean the department plans to ease up. If anything the drop in murders is motivating them to stay focused now more than ever.

We did check with other outlying cities on their murder rates, most are running similar to last year. The Fresno Police Department says shootings are also down 30 percent.

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