Serious crime is down in Sanger

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Long known as a 'gang town' the city of Sanger is reporting a dramatic drop in major crime. (KFSN)

Long known as a 'gang town' the city of Sanger is reporting a dramatic drop in major crime. The chief of police says his officers are busier than ever. But now they're preventing crime rather than just responding to it.

"Yeah, several homicides that i can recall just up in this area," said Sanger police Sgt. Kevin Callahan, who has patrolled these streets for about 10 years.

The homicides he's recalling were mostly gang related and now new cases are mostly non-existing.

The city is reporting major crimes are dropping. "So that tells me that my officers are really out there, they are assertively looking for suspicious and criminal behavior," said Police Chief Silver Rodriguez. "They're really doing a good job in putting a stop to the criminal activity that was occurring."

Rodriguez put on the chief's badge in 2012. But he says all the credit for the drop in crime goes to his department, including 32 sworn officers, and the people living in Sanger. They are changing their own neighborhoods.

"Well, they're down there playing right now," Callahan said. "You can just see how many cars are up in this park, how many people are walking, how many kids are playing. 10 years ago, it was not this way."

There were 400 fewer crimes committed in Sanger the past two years. Homicides went from 2 in 2013 to zero in 2014. Thefts are down by 27 percent. And a huge problem valley wide, auto theft, is down in Sanger by 46 percent.

"That was the ball and chain that was on all of our feed here in this town," said Mayor Joshua Mitchell. "But we have worked exceptionally hard to make sure that this town is seen as one that is a city you can raise your family in, a city you can do your shopping in, a city you can open up your small business in."

Two court injunctions also limit gang activity in certain parts of the city, like where gang members can drink alcohol, wear certain clothes and just hang out together.

"When we can frustrate that and create a safer environment for the citizens," Callahan said. "That's our ultimate goal and objective."

Last year the city lost 7 officers to other departments. But Chief Rodriguez says he's working to replace those positions. Despite that, he says the crimes are still on this downward trend.

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