Fresno City and County report drop in murders for 2015

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Both Fresno Police officers and Fresno County Sheriff's deputies say excellent medical care in Fresno is a big reason homicide rates are down in 2015. (KFSN)

As 2015 comes to a close, two local law enforcement agencies are reporting a drop in the number of murders for the year.

Both Fresno Police officers and Fresno County Sheriff's deputies say excellent medical care in Fresno is a big reason homicide rates are down in 2015. "Some of it is we've had people that probably could have died but due to medical technologies and advancements they were able to save the person," said Sgt. Joe Smith, Fresno County Sheriff's Office.

Homicide victims in the City of Fresno numbered 39 in 2015 -- compared to 48 in 2014. Even though the murder rate is down, Fresno Police solved far fewer murders in 2015 than last year. Just 64 percent of homicides were cleared in 2015, meaning a suspect has either been identified or arrested. But in 2014, an overwhelming 96 percent were resolved.

Police Chief Jerry Dyer says one major factor has led to less arrests. "I believe that has everything to do with people not willing to come forward and provide information to us."

The murder of 21-year-old Fresno City College athlete Deondre Howard is one of the unsolved crimes this year. Although there are witnesses, no valuable tips have led police to a suspect.

In Fresno County, Sheriff's detectives have investigated 13 murders this year, compared to 14 last year. "For those in the County we've solved seven of the nine, but for the incorporated cities, we actually haven't been able to solve any of those four," said Smith.

Fresno Police say shootings are up 27 percent this year, but officers are getting to these crime scenes faster. "Certainly our response times to any type of shooting type call are better especially since we have the gunshot detection system in place," said Dyer.

A problem that investigators deal with year after year is a lack of witnesses -- especially considering this year about 70 percent of homicides in the City of Fresno were gang related.
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