Visalia sees a dip in crime

VISALIA, Calif.

Police arrived at northeast 4th and Granite Streets in North Visalia last week, to find three people shot. Two survived. But a 26-year-old named Oscar Arzate died over the weekend.

The man became the city's third homicide victim this year. Police arrested two teenagers for the murder.

Sgt. Gary Williams said, "The incident is gang-related. Both members, the victim and the suspect, are associated with gangs.

Despite this latest killing, Visalia Police say nearly all crimes are down in the city. At this time last year there were five homicides in Visalia, compared to three this year. Car thefts and burglaries are down by roughly 30%. Petty theft took a slight dip. Although simple assaults are up slightly, assaults overall have decreased from last year at this time.

Residents and some crime victims say they feel the South Valley city is safer.

Tom Reetz said, "I don't really see too much more tagging going around so I know that must be something."

"I was taking the groceries in the house and while I was doing that my purse was stolen and it's just not doing that," said Pat Reetz. "I don't see the children around anymore I see the police have been going up and down the street more often."

Visalia Police agree they have more of a presence out in neighborhoods. Budget slashes forced Visalia Unified to give up its junior high police officers, leaving the department with more patrol officers. New district commanders have also been added to monitor the north and south sides of the city.

Sgt. Gary Williams said, "They've identified some areas on their sides of town made sure there was some enforcement at those locations in attempts to curb crime."

Investigators say last year's "Operation Street Sweeper", gang injunctions and increased communication between other police and state agencies have also helped.

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