FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) – Fresno’s Police Chief Paco Balderrama and six other police chiefs from across the country sat down virtually with White House officials to talk about a national rise in violent crime.

The rise in violent crime is detailed in the Major Cities Chiefs Association’s semi-annual report. While certain crimes are down in Fresno this year, others continue to rise.

“Police work is about being proactive and not reactive, we do a great job of responding after the fact but lives are changed, lives are lost, lives are damaged, and people are traumatized,” said Chief Balderrama. “We gotta do something ahead of time about it.” 

As of Aug. 7, the Fresno Police Department reported 36 murders and 148 people injured by bullets. In the same time period last year, officers reported 45 murders and 175 people injured by bullets.

Each one of these homicides is not just a statistic but a person’s life.

In February, 18-year-old Devin Johnson was shot dead outside of a North Fresno bowling alley.

In March, 24-year-old Joseph Roy was shot and killed by police after officials said Roy attacked a Detective inside of Police Headquarters.

In July, 21-year-old Stacy Zurita and 25-year-old Raul Nunez were gunned down and killed in Southeast Fresno.

“Our country as a whole has been going through a period of time where violent crime has really spiked,” said Balderrama.

At the beginning of August, the MCCA released the violent crime report that details the trends across 70 of the major cities including Fresno. Data from the report showed nationwide homicides were up 53% from 2018-2021. In Fresno, homicides were up 56% for the same time period.

Balderrama said through tactical operations and focus on staffing, homicide numbers are finally coming down.

“At this point, we are down 20% in homicides, the goal is 25%,” said Balderrama. “Even with that double-digit number of 20%, it is not good enough,” said the Chief.

While homicides are down, the report showed that robbery, rape, and aggravated assaults are up in Fresno for 2022. Aggravated assault is defined as a deliberate attack on a person typically with a weapon.

Chief Balderrama attributes that rise to the department switching over to a more advanced and deeper reporting system that is utilized by the FBI.

“Some of our numbers are going to go up,” said Balderrama. “It doesn’t mean that our community is any less safe. For example, shootings are down 28% that is a fact.

Our station submitted several public records requests. Those requests revealed that southeast, southwest, and central Fresno were disproportionately affected by shootings from July 2021 and July 2022.

“We know that violent crime to a certain degree is higher in certain areas but what bothers me more is that 40-55% of our homicide victims are African American males but they only make up about 7% of the population shows that violent crime is impacting those communities more,” said Balderrama.

Balderrama says community trust and full staffing are key to reducing the number of shootings and murders in Fresno.