Reedley residents demand better public safety

FRESNO, Calif.

The sound off came after a weekend stabbing literally put crime on one woman's doorstep in South Reedley. A teen was attacked in one family's yard Saturday afternoon. While the fearful homeowner called 911, the victim tried to force his way inside.

Tuesday night, the homeowner described the ordeal to city council members. "They were using my kids' scooters as weapons, using them to hit the guy," said the homeowner, who asked not to be identified.

"I'm not on to put myself out there. But this is the safety of my family. My children, who don't even want to go outside anymore. I can't get my 11 year old son to sleep in his bedroom," said the homeowner.

Other residents also testified, asking the council to make public safety a top priority, despite budget problems. "Before sports complexes, before anything else, protect the citizens," said another resident.

Saturday's stabbing in broad daylight was followed by a deadly shooting Sunday night. It all comes as Reedley Police deal with a shortage of officers. Chief Steve Wright tried to reassure residents at Tuesday's meeting, but also admitted the department is short-staffed. The department of 34 has nine additional vacancies, and on certain shifts, only two officers and a sergeant are on duty. "It's created a situation where you can't fill previously funded positions. We've had to freeze positions and not fill them. When positions go vacant for attrition, we have to delay filling those positions," said Chief Wright.

The people at the meeting said they support their police officers and realize they're doing all they can. But in the neighborhood surrounding Saturday's stabbing, there is a fear over what happens next. "We've got to take back our town. Because this is not what we're going to have our kids raised around," said resident Mila Velasquez.

Reedley city council members had little to say following the earful, because it happened during the public comments portion of a regularly scheduled council meeting. Chief Wright is hoping there will be a realization on a higher level, where counties, states, and the federal government take a stand on public safety.

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