FPD crime crackdown dramatically cuts violence

FRESNO, Calif.

Police took significant steps after a surge in shootings four months ago and the numbers show those steps succeeded.

The summer deployment took officers out of investigative units and desk jobs and even union work and put them out on the streets. The operation seems to have driven criminals underground.

It was late spring, and Fresno's Quigley Park had become a hot spot for violence. Twice in two weeks, police taped off the area after shootings, and neighbors grew fearful.

"Anybody would get scared if they hear some shootings and so on and so forth and the neighbors don't want to come out when that happens," said Richard Zamarriga.

Zamarriga said it all changed in the middle of June. Neighbors are coming back outside, kids are playing at the park, and Fresno police deserve the credit, he said.

"There have been police cars that pass by in the mornings and the afternoons, so I would imagine that's the reason why there hasn't been much trouble," Zamarriga said.

Officers saturated this neighborhood and other hot spots for violence in mid-June. The crackdown pulled officers from nearly every assignment and put them in uniform, in violent neighborhoods.

With as many as 30 extra officers on patrol at critical times, and especially on weekends, the city was suddenly safer.

Before June 18, police had 72 shootings in eight weeks. In the first eight weeks of the operation, they had 43 -- a 40% reduction. And in the last four weeks, there were just ten shootings.

Now that the operation is over, police are hoping more focused patrolling will help the success carry over.

"The more police officers that we can place in those targeted hot spots during the times and hours, during the times and days of the week when violent crime is likely to occur, that is what reduces it," said Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer.

Chief Dyer credits the increased police presence with a reduction in property crime as well. He's making plans to have a similar operation next year.

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