Focus on illegal guns pays off in Southeast Fresno

January 1, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
The Fresno Police Department is reporting a large decrease in violent crime in 2012 -- specifically in the Southeast portion of the city.

Police are always on the lookout for weapons. But in Southeast Fresno, officers came across so many illegal guns, they decided to keep track of them in a very unique way.

"Our captain said, we should start a trophy wall," said Richard De Jong, Fresno Police, Southeast District.

Officers started posting pictures of their daily efforts all over the southeast district headquarters -- representing one fifth of the City of Fresno. More than 230 handguns, rifles, and even antique weapons. So many, in fact, that the district's most violent crimes took a dip.

"Get the guns off the street, and quit taking a lot of violent calls that would come in," said De Jong.

De Jong said traffic stops led them to illegal firearms and drugs. His officers targeted gang members, those on probation and parole, and often found heavy weaponry. At year's end, the district arrested more than 7,500 people, saw a 4 percent reduction in all crimes, and a 21 percent decrease in violent crimes.

As they start to take down the weapons of 2012, they hope their numbers will be even better in 2013. "If we can do that again consistently, we'll definitely put a dent in violent crime here in Southeast."

In December, the southeast district made more than 500 arrests -- surpassing the totals across the city.