Fresno Police say overall crime down in Downtown Fresno because of new tactics

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Thanks to a proactive approach and increasing presence, Fresno PD said it is forcing a good portion of illegal activities out of the area-- and the numbers speak for themselves. (KFSN)

Preventing crime in Downtown Fresno has traditionally been a major challenge for law enforcement. Now, thanks to a proactive approach and increasing presence, the Fresno Police Department said it is forcing a good portion of illegal activities out of the area-- and the numbers speak for themselves.

"Robberies are down 32-percent, larcenies are down 27-percent, and burglaries are down 26-percent," said Captain Mark Salazar, Fresno Police.

Thursday, we got an up close look at the challenge the department faces on a daily basis-- riding with the downtown bike unit-- a unit that has made 300 felony arrests so far this year. Recently they nabbed a West Fresno Gang member in the Mural District armed with a loaded handgun and crystal meth.

"What we started doing is focusing on the homeless population that are committing crimes-- they're on probation and parole, running from probation and parole. They're gang members and we started focusing on them and as well as the gang members that come into downtown," said Salazar.

Fresno PD's plan to clean up Downtown is to prevent the homeless population from congregating in certain areas. One man was questioned by police after he was found in an alley with drug paraphernalia on him.

On a different stop, police questioned a man they had arrested on a copper wire theft less than two months ago.

"We'll check for stolen property, or maybe if it's a person that's displaced and they need help, some type of resource we can help with-- we can take them to the rescue mission or something like that," said Sergeant Mike Gebhart, Fresno Police Department.

But as you would imagine-- not everyone appreciates all the questioning by police.

"At the end of the day, they're harassing us too. I don't understand that-- we're homeless. If a person is homeless what we did the police to come check on us for," said Kenyanna Ricks, Fresno.

But the unit will continue to evolve in its tactics to keep the downtown area safe.

"We still have the bike unit but we'll get in a surveillance car and watch drug activity go on and we'll change our tactics again because they're going to change as well," said Salazar.

The one area that remains a huge challenge for police is car burglaries, but they feel they are getting a good handle on that as well. We saw 29 in May-- that was down to 11 in June.

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