Fresno City Council considers funding program to get gang shooters to give up their guns

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Fresno City Council will consider spending $200,000 to help finance the Advanced Peace program. Councilmember Miguel Arias said it is aimed at getting gang members who use guns, to give up the gang life.

"In essence, Advanced Peace identifies the most active shooters in Fresno and enrolls them into a prevention program to help them with mentorship and job placement," Arias said.

The program is underway in Stockton, Sacramento and Richmond, and Fresno police chief Jerry Dyer says it shows promise.

"I support the concept; I know that it is something that would be effective," he said.

Dyer said there are 138 active shooters in Fresno. He says short of catching them in the act it is a challenge to get anyone to testify against them.

"And so the goal is to target those individuals with intervention and prevention, versus enforcement," he said.

But the question both Dyer and Councilmember Garry Bredefeld have is: where does the money come from?

"I don't think we should be spending $200,000 or $300,000 over the next five years on a program that certainly has value, but we have a lot of needs in the city of Fresno, it always comes down to priorities," Bredefeld said.

But Aaron Foster, the father of drive-by shooting victim Kayla Foster, believes it's well worth the money.

"Because lives are at stake," he said. "Not only gang members get killed when I lost my daughter two weeks before she graduated. She wasn't a gang member, so these bullets don't stop when they miss."

Advanced Peace is a nationwide organization made up of various non-profit and faith-based groups, including Faith in the Valley, in which Foster is a volunteer. Under the proposal before the city council, those groups would match whatever funds the city provides, to hire and train outreach workers who will attempt to guide the gang members to a better life.

Foster believes it will pay off, "If you want to see change, you have to make some change and business, as usual, has been ineffective for many years, so we have to try a different approach."

The proposal to provide city funds for the project will be among the budget items the city council will vote on Thursday.
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