Police focus on Northwest Fresno due to increase in crime

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- An increasing amount of crime in a certain part of Fresno is concerning city leaders, and now Fresno police are focusing their efforts on that part of the city.

Nearly 44 years -- that's how long Bettie Hayes has lived in Northwest Fresno. So she's seen the city evolve over the years.

"We've been there all that time, and we've never had anything bothered on our property, which I think is pretty amazing. Even my own kids say, 'Mom, why don't you move before this gets bad.' I say, 'No thank you. My house is paid for, I'm staying right here,'" said Hayes.

In an effort to combat the rise in crime, 30 extra officers are now committed to Northwest Fresno neighborhoods. It's no surprise to Hayes this part of the city is now a target area.

"I hear sirens and what I believe are gunshots at times particularly in the middle of the night, and that's kind of worrisome," said Hayes.

Just in the last year, Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said in the Northwest Fresno policing district, violent crime has increased by almost 40 percent.

"Much of the crime that was experienced in the southern part of the city has gravitated to the north to Northwest Fresno," said Dyer.

A handful of those disturbances happened at Nick's Bar on Shields and West avenues. Dyer said they responded to many alcohol related incidents, including a murder last year in the parking lot.

"So any time you have those types of calls, where they're violent, stemming from a lot of alcohol involved, generally it's because the owner or the bartender is not doing their job, and then we have to come in and clean up the mess," said Dyer.

Last week, the bar's alcoholic beverage license was suspended for 20 days, Dyer says, but Wednesday morning it burned from the inside out. He said the establishment was a hangout for gang members, so without it they may be forced to go somewhere else. In the meantime, he said extra officers in the area are helping. In the last two weeks, violent crime went down 17 percent compared to weeks before.

Dyer said Southeast Fresno is the only policing district in Fresno that's seen a reduction in violent crime this year.
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