FRESNO, California. (KSEE) – Police Chief Paco Balderrama says the police department has set up a plan after yet another deadly weekend in Fresno, with the city hitting its 45th homicide of the year.
Last year at this time, there were 22 homicides and 315 shootings, according to the police department. As of August 3, there have been 418 shootings. Almost 40 of them have taken place within the past two weeks.
“We cannot put up with this anymore. We do need police officers but we also need help,” the chief said.
Balderrama says gangs are fueling much of the violence.
“We know that the majority of these shootings are gang-related, and we also know that the amount of illegal guns that are recovered on the streets is astronomical,” he said.
According to Balderrama, as of July 21, officers have recovered more than 1,000 firearms related to crimes this year.
“That’s more firearms than I have police officers,” he said.
Starting this weekend, Balderrama says all specialized units in the department will be focused on violent crime. He hopes for better violent crime intelligence and faster responses by patrol units.
“When we overly focus on violent crime, we will drive the numbers down. The shootings will go down, the homicides will go down, we will put a lot of people in jail. But we will suffer in other areas,” he said.
The chief says what the department really needs is support from the community, state and federal partners, specifically mentioning the state’s zero-dollar bail policy.
“After following some leads, identifying an individual, putting them in jail…just to see them get out of jail – sometimes within hours – and commit another crime,” he said.
Chief Balderrama mentioned the case of Jacqueline Flores specifically, saying Crime Stoppers has upped the reward to $5,000 for anyone who has information. He also says the specialized units will solely focus on violent crime until rates go down.