Kingsburg residents join forces against crime

September 27, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Fresno County town of Kingsburg has seen an uptick in crime in recent weeks. And a shortage of patrol officers has residents in one neighborhood speaking out.

Maria Blackwell has lived in a peaceful Kingsburg neighborhood for more than 10 years, but lately, she's been living in fear. She said, "They're coming in late at night, early in the morning, taking vehicles, ransacking the houses."

In the past few weeks her neighborhood has been the target of residential and vehicle burglaries. And now she's leading efforts to take a stand against crime in the community.

Blackwell said, "We took it upon ourselves to make the flyers, and to stand out here and pass them out and let people know, if you see something, call.

When you compare August of this year to last year, burglaries have nearly doubled. Jumping from five last August, to nine this August.

Police Chief Jeff Dunn said, "We're going through a little bit of a wave or spike in both vehicle burglaries and some residential burglaries,

Chief Dunn would be the first to tell you that crime is a problem. He says he's been working with the community to respond to the uptick, but budget cuts forced the city to let go of two of its officers earlier this year.

"Anytime you lose officers, it's a concern for everybody," Chief Dunn said. "I don't know of a police or sheriff's department anywhere that can say they have enough police officers or deputy sheriffs. Would be like to have more here in Kingsburg, most definitely.

And just last week, another officer was fired because of a personnel matter.

Reggie Gierke said, "It's really cutting back our numbers even more so than we were before."

Gierke is president of the Kingsburg Peace Officers' Association and has been critical of the department's actions. He said, "Our concern is what is the chief's, what is the city's response and how are they going to back fill or adapt to that shortcoming, there."

While the chief says he's working with the community, some neighbors want to see more action from the city.

Blackwell said, "We want to get the support to go to city council to present them with something to try to get a plan to take care of this."

Maria Blackwell, along with hundreds of other residents plan to attend next week's council meeting and voice their concerns.


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