Shootings are down in southwest Fresno. Police say crime is down across the board in an area that has a history of gang violence. Captain Mark Salazar says the district has seen the largest decrease in shootings citywide.
Patrolling neighborhoods once known as the most dangerous in southwest Fresno, Officer Sean Morris and the Special Response Team are changing culture.
“For years, this place was a war zone and for them to be able to sleep at night at not have to worry about a stray bullet coming through their window, it’s just rewarding to us,” said Morris.
Southwest Fresno Police have recovered 149 guns from the hands of gang members. The SRT responsible for more than 50 of them off the streets in 2018.
Often, officers recognize known gang members on probation and make contact right away.
“Immediately, one of them might start running, throw a gun. That’s how a lot of these hand gun recoveries happen,” said Officer Takemoto.
So far in 2018 compared to last year at this time, shootings in southwest are down 33 percent, violent crime down 15 percent and a 16 percent drop in property crime.
“There’s been a tagging war going on between BLS and WFN which is a Norteno Fresno based gang,” said Morris.
But officers remain proactive, aware of ongoing feuds. Captain Mark Salazar says interaction with the community — specifically building trust in the youth is also important.
“And last night I was at Maxie Parks with some of the biggest community leaders in southwest Fresno talking about how we engage our youth even further,” said Salazar.
On our ride along — SRT recognizes a 17-year-old Muhammad gang member. Police say he violated his probation and there’s an active warrant for his arrest.
“Our goal is to prevent and deter violent crime. and at the same time dismantling these different gangs,” said Morris.
Southwest Fresno has seen 82 shootings so far this year, on pace to finish under 100 by 2018’s end.