Violent crime in Southwest Fresno drastically down this year

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- In southwest Fresno, laughter is replacing the sound of gunfire.

Even old hostiles are blossoming into friendships.

"It's working great. We get a chance to whoop the police and not go to jail. We beat them in basketball, we beat them in football," said Fresno Street Saints Brian King.

Just two years ago, shootings were happening daily in the neighborhood.

Cpt. Mark Salazar remembers when people at Frank H. Ball Park were hostile to their very presence.

"These kids. A lot of them have an edge. They had to have an edge because they have lived in a community that has experienced violence in the past. What we see is they get to be a kid," said Cpt. Salazar.

That is why he along with community leaders resolved to change.

The police department along with other groups started holding movies at the park this summer, where they feed and entertain families every Wednesday night.

The officers also coach, takes kids on fieldtrips, and the results have been remarkable.

"We know officers. We know names, they know our names. We are making a small dent and moving the needle a little bit," said King.

Violent crime in Southwest Fresno is already down 12 percent compared to last year. And the district is on track to have less than 100 shootings this year.

"We are striving to take these kids and help them out. At the same time gangs are doing the same thing. We're fighting for the same kids," said Cpt. Salazar.

Officers may have lost the last generation. But they are determined to win this generation over.
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