FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) – In the first three days of 2021, five homicides took place in Fresno. The former city police chief and Mayor-Elect Jerry Dyer will take office Tuesday and said reducing violence in the city is one of his priorities.
“It’s alarming, it’s frustrating for me as former police chief,” Dyer said.
The recent homicides follow a deadly 2020, with more than 70 homicides in Fresno. Investigators say four of the five homicides this year involve gang affiliations.
“It’s tragic especially when you see young people that are victims of violence,” said Lt. Steve Card, the Multi-Agency Gang Enforcement Consortium metro commander in Fresno. “I am a father, I live in the community, I’ve raised a family here, we all care about our community.”
Fourteen-year-old Breana Gomez was shot and killed in the area of Shaw and Maple avenues on Sunday morning.
“We have a 14-year-old girl who is dead in our city today who’s never going to have the opportunity to reach adulthood and that is why we have to do more with youth outreach, why we have to do more with gang suppression activity, lowering crime in our city,” Dyer said.
Dyer says three things will be key: making violent crimes the number one focus within the police department, ensuring officers feel supported and have direction, and having good data.
“That is what drives your strategies. You know where to put police officers, what time to put police officers, who might be the next shooting victim, what gangs are feuding,” he said.
Dyer said he’s having conversations with incoming police chief Paco Balderrama, adding that Balderrama is putting together a comprehensive strategy that can be implemented as soon as he is sworn in on Jan. 11.
Dyer said gaining trust from the community will be essential.
“It’s important that police officers proactively go out there and try to stop shootings by making traffic stops, by targeting individuals they know to be in gangs, but as they do that, they have to treat people with respect and only stop people they have a lawful right to stop,” Dyer said.