Fresno's crime rate rises along with the heat

FRESNO, Calif.

The heat is not what's drawing some families in at dusk. In this neighborhood gang activity, shootings and crime signal not only summer but crime season.

Splashing around is a great escape from triple digit temperatures. But come sunset, the laughter fades as this family heads indoors.

Nancy Benitez said, "We try to have the kids inside by the time it's dark, we all go inside by the time it's dark. We turn on our light, we have our dog out here. Because there's too much things going on."

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer says hot temps mean hot tempers. Once foot traffic picks up at sundown ... so does crime. That combination leads to fear and frustration among many residents.

"What I can say to those people that are living in those neighborhoods that have been plagued by gang violence is that we are there for you. And we are going to continue to be there for you. And we're going to do everything in our power to make your neighborhood safe," said Chief Dyer.

Police say Southwest Fresno is typically a hotspot for violent crime during summer months. In this neighborhood, many who live here say it's not always a good idea to know your neighbors.

"We really don't talk to anyone around here. Um we just stay to ourselves cause we figure if we don't talk to no one nobody will mess with us," said Benitez.

Several blocks away retired school teacher Mattie Woods says she likes to know her neighbors. She feels crime has dropped over the past several years.

"Most of the little kids running around, I know them. Plus I taught some of them, they know Miss Woods. But being on the corner, it would seem like I would get more crime, but no. Not at all," said Woods.

Cities like San Diego with more moderate temperatures don't typically see a dramatic increase in crime over the summer months. On Wednesday, Chief Dyer plans to reveal a new plan he says will make families feel more secure.

Chief Dyer said, "We are in the process of rolling out some initiatives that I think is going to be very meaningful and impactful and lasting within these neighborhoods."

As of today murders for the city of Fresno are up 50 percent from last year. Shootings are also up 10 percent. 20 out of 27 murders for 2010 are also gang related.

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