FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – As questions swirl about resident safety due to a surge in violent crime in Fresno over the past two years, Fresno’s top cop said nearly 200 dangerous criminals are off the streets.
Operation Safe Neighborhoods ran from November 1-7 and was a joint partnership between local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. In total there were over 100 felony arrests and over 80 misdemeanor arrests.
“These individuals arrested are for homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, attempted murder, and sexual assault,” said Balderrama about the felony arrests.
Balderrama said the operation targeted violent crime and gang members in the community. He said opioids, meth, marijuana, over 40 guns, and $140,000 dollars in suspected drug money were seized.
“We are not going to put up with this type of violent crime in our community,” said Balderrama.
Balderrama said the operation has impacted crime locally. He said in the last week there has not been a homicide in the city and only one shooting resulting in injury.
However, he said that an enormous number of guns being pulled off the streets by his department is a concern, with the department on track to recover over 2000 firearms this year.
“2000 guns,” said the Chief. “And keep in mind this is not a second amendment issue. These firearms, a lot of them are ghost guns, a lot of them are stolen, and they are all in the hands of people who should not have them.”
A so-called “ghost gun” is a gun with no visible serial number.
At the beginning of 2021, tragedy hit the city of Fresno hard, with 11 homicides in just the month of January. Each of those homicides left behind a grieving family and an empty chair at the dinner table.
“At that point, we were on pace to have 125 homicides in one year,” said Balderrama. “Keep in mind last year we set a 25-year record of 74 homicides.”
Balderrama said on August 1 he order officers to get criminals off the streets through a city-wide gang task force. The department has made 1300 arrests since the start of the operation.
District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp said it is operations like these that make the community safer. She said that her office has already filed charges for over a dozen of the Operation Safe Neighborhood suspects and expects more to come.
“The results of this operation have been successful because they are proactive policing tactics that equal less crime and safer streets for our children and people of color,” said Smittcamp.