Fresno budgets for more cops as crime spikes

Temperatures are spiking in Fresno, and so is the violent crime rate.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno police blame a sudden surge in shootings on gang rivalries. A newly approved city budget means more help is on the way.

Fresno police have been running from shooting to shooting over the past week. Chief Jerry Dyer blames the surge on gangs and heat.

"In this past week, we've had 12 shootings in our city, which is about double the number we generally see," said Dyer. "Much of that has to do with some ongoing feuds that are occurring with a particular gang, but it also has to do with the fact that we are seeing warmer months, more people out, more alcohol consumed and more violence."

The latest shooting occurred Monday night in Southwest Fresno. A man and woman sitting in a car were shot. The man was critically wounded. Dyer says more police officers on the street won't necessarily stop crimes like this.

"Just because you get more police officers doesn't necessarily mean you can lower crime within your jurisdiction because there are so many other factors that you have to reply upon," he said.

Like, Dyer says, making sure criminals are held accountable. The department is now operating with less than 700 officers on the streets -- down from nearly 850 just six years ago.

The city council just approved Mayor Ashely Swearengin's recommendation to add 43 officers over the next year. The mayor says it is a step in the right direction.

"In the time since we've had 848 officers, our crime has continued to come down; however, we've seen an increase this year," said Swearengin. "So we know that probably 848 for a city our size maybe wasn't needed, but we do need more than 700. So we're adding back 43 officers this year and just slowly rebuild from there."

Dyer notes it will take a year to hire and train most of those officers. He said, "It's going to take time for us, once we do hire officers, to be able to use them in a fashion that's really going to have an impact on reducing crime."

In an effort to get more experienced officers on the force quickly, Dyer is offering a $10,000 signing bonus to officers in other departments to come to Fresno.
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