Fresno City leaders offer money to gang members in effort to reduce drive-by shootings

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During Tuesday’s Fresno City Council meeting, council member Miguel Arias asked for the further exploration of a program to curb gang violence.

Advance Peace helps gang members abandon the gang lifestyle by offering stipends and other incentives.

The bottom line — pay them money.

“The way the program works is a community organization and community leaders identified these individuals, sign them up for mentorship programs for job programs, monitor them make sure they stay out of trouble,” says Miguel Arias, Fresno City Council member for District 3.

There are similar programs in Stockton, which is 100 percent private funding and in Sacramento, which is both city and private dollars.

But the question is, who should pay for it in the City of Fresno?

Councilmember Miguel Arias believes the City should help fund it.

“If they {Advance Peace} can reduce losing one child to a drive-by in the community, it’s worth the investment,” says Arias.

He says the program will target the gang members known for drive-by shootings.

“Personally, I’m tired of having to set up scholarship funds for the victims of drive-by shootings,” he says.

But District 6 Fresno City Council member Garry Bredefeld, disagrees about use City funds for this program. He says more police officers and 911 dispatchers are needed in Fresno.

“I don’t think this is a good idea to use City general fund tax payer money for this kind of a program,” Bredefeld expressed.

Bredefeld says there are already programs in Fresno to help the at-risk youth.

“I think you can expose people to doing things other than being involved in gangs without paying them money, so I don’t support that, there’s a lot of things we can do to help people who are at risk.”

But Arias says part of the requirement in his motion would be for Advance Peace to help fund raise half of the $1.5 million it would take for a five-year initiative.

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer says there are 138 gang members that this program would target.

He says it’s hard for witnesses to come forward and testify against them because they fear retaliation.

“This approach with Advance Peace is more of a front end approach, it’s targeting those individuals to leave that gang lifestyle become employed and change the way they view life,” says Dyer.

He believes the program would work.”We need to do more to stop gang violence in our city, there’s no question.”

Dyer says the monies that are provided to the gang members in the program would not be from the City, but rather from private dollars.

He says the gang members would have to reach certain benchmarks to receive stipends and incentives.

Right now, there is no firm plan in place as to how much gang members would be paid or when.

Arias says if passed they will have 90 days to come up with the 5-year plan.

The motion is expected to be voted on this Thursday, June 20.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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