FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — A significant rise in the number of homicides in Fresno so far in 2021 – compared to the same time last year – prompted Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama to brand the issue a problem for not only the police department but for the community and society as well.
Police department figures show 45 homicides in Fresno year to date, compared to 22 at the same time in 2020.
“We know two things,” began Chief Balderrama. “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.”
Chief Balderrama listed what he described as obstacles in the way of police officers:
- Zero-dollar bail creating a revolving-door system at Fresno County Jail
- Not enough police officers (706 officers to manage over 22,000 gang members in Fresno)
- An ongoing national crime wave
- The summer 2020 push to defund the police
Chief Balderrama said the violence over the past weekend warrants a response, describing the situation as not just a police problem, but a problem for the wider community and society as well.
“What we really need is some help from the county, from the state, and from our federal partners to address this. We need help with jail beds. We need to be able to put killers and shooters behind bars and expect them to stay.”
In response, the Fresno Police Department will be refocusing all its specialized units on violent crime this coming weekend.
Chief Balderrama added that those participating in community meetings ask for more police officers – not fewer.
“So the whole defunding narrative has really lost a lot of momentum because we’re seeing the effects of reduced resources.”
But the Chief of Fresno Police ended his comments with a warning to those committing the crimes.
“For those who are doing the shooting, we are coming after you. For those who are creating havoc and unsafety in our community, we are coming after you and we’re not going to stop.”