Fresno Police teaming up with federal agents to reduce violent crime

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno Police officers are teaming up with other law enforcement agencies and federal agents, with a plan to lower homicides and keep the most violent residents in Fresno locked up.

In just the past month, the police chief says it's working and violent crime is way down as a result. Homicides are down 50 percent from the same time as last year. Chief Jerry Dyer says the reason is simple, every officer, working every shift has been told to seek out gang member.

On April 11, 18-year-old Noah Hernandez was on Kings Canyon and Cedar when plain clothes gang enforcement officers saw trouble starting.

Chief Dyer said, "They noticed that there were rival gangs across the street at that location barking at one another. There was a disturbance."

When Hernandez went to retrieve something from his backpack- they moved in. A .22 modified rifle was inside.

The operation began a citywide effort to target a specific group of people: gang members.

Dyer said, "Any gang member that was involved in a crime whether it be domestic violence or financial would be the priority for that investigative unit."

Since many California state criminal laws have been weakened- local officers are teaming up more often with federal agents and prosecutors. Many violent criminals who are prosecuted through the state aren't staying locked up because of the watered down laws and sentences.

US Attorney of the Eastern District of California, McGregor Scott said, "Many people who should be in prison are in Sheriff Mims's jail, and many people who should be in Sheriff Mims's jail are out on the street."

Federal and local leaders noticed a huge rise in homicides and shootings in 2017. The benefit of federal prosecution is longer sentences, even with good behavior.

In April alone, local and federal law enforcement officers made 81 felony arrests, and they took 34 guns off the streets.

Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp knows that one gun can be used in many crimes.

Smittcamp said, "These are tools for human trafficking. These are tools for burglaries and robberies. These are tools for sometimes domestic violence."

Officers also served about two dozen search warrants and made over 100 parole and probation checks. The operation will continue indefinitely with a special emphasis on Southeast, Southwest and Central Fresno.
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